WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- From the moment we wake up until the time we go to bed, the Internet has become the enabling thread that holds together our day. This increased connectivity, however, and our ever-growing number of connected devices has also made us more vulnerable to cybercrime. Against this backdrop, National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), which is co-led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), is focusing its third week on making our families and our communities more secure.
According to the Pew Research Center, nearly two-thirds of Americans are now smartphone owners and for many, these devices are a key entry point to the online world. At the same time, 62 percent of Americans fear that their smartphone or computer will be hacked. This penetration all but erases the static notion of "going online" and underlines our new reality, where Internet connectivity is actively a part of many consumers' day-to-day, personal, professional and community lives. As such, a major call to action this October is for every family to designate a family online security officer – someone who spends time thinking about all the digital components in their lives, assesses what security systems need fixing or upgrading, determines a family action plan and makes cybersecurity discussions a regular part of family conversation.
"The days of making the 'family' computer secure with anti-virus protection and common sense decisions are long gone. The sheer number of new, connected devices have changed the game," said Michael Kaiser, executive director of NCSA. "Most American households have numerous devices ‒ cars, wearables, TVs, smartphones and even baby monitors ‒ that provide functionality through an Internet connection. This always-on, always-connected world requires a new, proactive attitude that will allow us to enjoy the benefits of the Internet with the greatest confidence. Appointing the most digitally literate member of the household to make the safety and security of these devices and the way family members use the Internet a regular priority can help make this a reality."
Life After Breach
Close to 432 million accounts were hacked in 2014 – revealing personal information such as names, debit or credit card numbers, emails, birthdays, phone numbers, passwords, security questions and physical addresses ‒ but those affected are becoming more proactive. According to a soon to be released victim impact survey by the Identity Theft Resource Center, in the aftermath of a breach, 69 percent of consumers are placing more onus on themselves to protect their digital identities while acknowledging that retailers, government, data brokers, Internet service providers and device manufactures also share significant responsibility in protecting their personal information. Breach victims are also taking these top six steps to once again enjoy the Internet more safely and securely:
- Changing their passwords: 68 percent
- Becoming more careful about clicking or downloading links: 56 percent
- Installing or updating security software such as anti-virus: 42 percent
- Updating privacy settings on social networking sites: 38 percent
- Removing or trying to remove personal information from the internet: 39 percent
- More than 1 out of 3 are now abandoning suspect online purchases: 36 percent
"Now more than ever it is important for families to understand their online vulnerabilities and identity theft risks," said Eva Casey Velasquez, President/CEO of Identity Theft Resource Center. "This year's aftermath study reinforces the fact that identity theft creates barriers in the lives of its victims and takes a devastating emotional toll beyond the most commonly understood financial impact."
For tips on how we can all help keep the Internet safe, see NCSA's new infographic, "Do You Want to Help Make the Internet Safer?": http://ncsam.info/1WR4a9L
Connected Home, Connected Kids – New Research, Keystone Event
Against the timely backdrop of the week's theme, "Connected Communities and Families: Staying Protected While Always Connected," NCSA and ESET® ‒ the global leader in proactive digital protection ‒ will launch a new body of research providing unique insights into the world behind our digital doors, as cybersecurity seeps into nearly every household activity. The results will be revealed at The Globe Theatre at Universal Studios in Los Angeles at a NCSAM keystone event featuring 300 local public school students, parents and teachers who will discover the best online safety practices. Co-hosted by Comcast NBCUniversal, CreativeFuture and NCSA, connected kids will learn more about safe, secure and responsible Internet use from experts that include representatives from DHS and iKeepSafe.
The event will explore issues young people face every day including respecting others online, protecting personal information and the legitimate and legal use of media, software and games. "It's a thrill to be a sponsor of this extraordinary and necessary event for kids. All of us are dedicated to the ongoing commitment of teaching children how to use the Internet safely, responsibly and ethically. We hope the students learn some good lessons here today while having some fun too," said Jim Janco, Sr. Director, Operations Compliance for Comcast Cable.
NCSA urges all families to be cyber safe by utilizing these tips:
- Create an inventory of all Internet-connected devices in your home.
- Use two-step authentication – also known as two-step verification or multi-factor authentication (where available) ‒ and long, strong and unique passwords for all accounts.
- Own your online presence.
- Review privacy settings available on social networking sites, cell phones, and other social tools the family uses. Decide together which settings provide the appropriate amount of protection.
- Secure your router: Make sure your router has a strong password and does not broadcast who you are through its name, such as "the Jones Family" or "123 Elm Street".
- Take action if your personal information is compromised: If you are a victim of cybercrime, report to law enforcement and other appropriate organizations, such as banks and credit card companies, etc.
- Connect smartly: Before connecting new devices understand how to use any security and privacy settings and how to maintain the security of the device.
Families can also encourage safe cybersecurity practices by assigning regularly practiced "digital chores" to both kids and parents. Just like many families have household jobs, make sure someone is responsible for digital chores as well.
- Keep a clean machine: On a weekly basis, check every device to make sure everyone is keeping their devices secure by installing updates of apps, operating systems and security software to prevent against malware infections.
- Back it up: It's a good practice to protect homework, pictures, music and other vital family information by creating an electronic copy and storing it safely in the cloud, on a CD, USB or external hard drive once a week.
- Share with care: Always remember that before posting online about your kids, think about how it may be perceived now, how he or she might feel in the future, and who might see it. Engage in a conversation with your children about what they are comfortable with you posting and start by deleting posts that may make them feel uncomfortable.
- Turn on two-step authentication. Doing this will prevent unauthorized access to your accounts.
- Stay current: Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online by visiting staysafeonline.org or other trusted websites weekly for the latest information about ways to stay safe while connected.
- Keep the conversation going: Include discussions about online safety and security as part of your regular conversations with your kids. Ask them what they do online, what new websites or apps they have used or want to use, and what their friends are doing online.
- Conduct a quarterly clean up: Go through files on your devices and delete things no longer needed, such as numerous draft documents, unflattering or no longer needed photos, old bookmarks, etc.
Join these virtual events:
#ChatSTC Twitter Chat: Digital Parenting – Keep Your Connected Family Safe (Virtual: Twitter Chat), Oct 15, 2015, 3-4 p.m. EDT/12-1 p.m. PDT: There are many ways parents can educate their kids on good cyber habits, whether they're using social media, playing games or shopping online. This #ChatSTC chat will provide parents with tips on helping kids use technology more safely and securely and raising good digital citizens. Use #ChatSTC to join!
Event Information: Teaching Higher Education End-users How to be #CyberSAFE (Virtual: Webinar), Oct 15, 2015, 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT: Logical Operations' info session will introduce CyberSAFE – Securing Assets for End-users training program and discuss how you can strengthen your institution's security capabilities. Additional information and registration here.
Here are some valuable resources to help Internet users stay safe online:
- The DHS Stop.Think.Connect. Toolkit offers tips and resources for kids of all ages and parents and educators. The Toolkit also includes tip cards on mobile security, social media, and a booklet to help adults talk to kids about online safety.
- NCSA created helpful "Tips for Parents on Raising Privacy-Savvy Kids," which will help get the conversation started. https://www.staysafeonline.org/data-privacy-day/privacy-tips/parents
- STOP.THINK.CONNECT., partnered with Cyber-Seniors and developed useful guidelines, which incorporate real-life comparisons to help older adults stay safer and more secure online. http://stopthinkconnect.org/resources/viewimageembed/?id=519
- Microsoft works to provide essential information to help you and your family more safely use the Internet. This information can be found on the Microsoft YouthSpark Hub website on Online Safety for Families, which includes everything from tips on how to better secure and defend your computer, to information on how to protect yourself from scams, and guidance to help keep your children safer online.
- In honor of NCSAM, RSA Conference recently posted new cyber safety videos on their website that share tips with parents and kids about safe and responsible Internet practices.
- Dr. Sharon Cooper: Speak to Your Children - We don't understand everything that happens developmentally to a child with the introduction of each new technology. But Cooper will say this with certainty: never give your child a new technology, and then walk away.
- Alicia Kozakiewicz: Children Deserve Protection - The Alicia Project works to protect children in all 50 states in funding training, supplying resources and brokering action. Alicia will detail a plan for avoiding Internet predators and coordinating actions between families, lawmakers and law enforcers.
- Lance Spitzer: Show Me How You Use It - Kids are basically uncontrollable; as are their gaming devices and phones...the question is "how can I monitor my kids?" Education and tracking are key.
- Chenxi Wang: Take the Journey Together - Wang hopes for international cooperation in breaking down the digital divide that separates us in age, gender, geography, nationality and economic interests. RSA Conference is central.
- Be Kind Online, a yearlong campaign sponsored by iKeepSafe and Beyond Differences, trains and empowers students to create and nurture healthy relationships online.
- You might think that you have to be an adult to be an identity theft victim, but that's not the case. Children are also at risk. Check out these latest "Tips for Protecting Kids and Teens from Identity Theft" by ConnectSafely.org: http://www.connectsafely.org/tips-for-protecting-kids-and-teens-from-identity-theft/
- Public WiFi is incredibly convenient, but can be dangerous. Learn how to connect safely and protect your personal information with these tips from the Identity Theft Resource Center: http://www.idtheftcenter.org/index.php/Fact-Sheets/fs-142.html
- Social networks are a great place to connect with friends, family and people with common interests. However, they can also provide information that can be used to steal your identity. Stay safe by following these tips from the Identity Theft Resource Center: http://www.idtheftcenter.org/index.php/Fact-Sheets/fs-138.html
- Parents looking to establish online safety guidelines for their kids can encourage them to read and sign Kids Email's online safety contract: http://blog.kidsemail.org/infographs/safety-contract-385x1024/
Individuals and companies and organizations of all sizes can show their support for NCSAM by becoming a Champion. Currently there are more than 650 NCSAM Champions who will play an active role in sharing important cybersecurity messages with their local communities, corporations, governments and individuals internationally. For more information on how to become a champion, visit https://www.staysafeonline.org/ncsam/champions.
Using the new hashtag, #CyberAware, NCSAM's Champions and supporters are also encouraged to join the conversation by posting tips, advice and information and participating in weekly Twitter chats occurring every Thursday at 3:00p.m. EDT and keeping up on the latest updates on http://www.facebook.com/staysafeonline.
Visit NCSAM's Media Resource Hub https://www.staysafeonline.org/about-us/news/media-room for more information on activities and events throughout the month. Additional resources (infographics, tip sheets, media kit and more) and information on getting involved are also available at https://www.staysafeonline.org/ncsam/
About National Cyber Security Awareness Month
National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) was created as a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online. Now in its 12th year, NCSAM is co-led by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance, the nation's leading nonprofit public-private partnership promoting the safe and secure use of the Internet and digital privacy. Recognized annually in October, NCSAM involves the participation of a multitude of industry leaders ‒ mobilizing individuals, small- and medium-sized businesses, non-profits, academia, multinational corporations and governments. Encouraging digital citizen around the globe to STOP. THINK. CONNECT., NCSAM is harnessing the collective impact of its programs and resources to increase awareness about today's ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape. Visit the NCSAM media room: https://www.staysafeonline.org/about-us/news/media-room/
About The National Cyber Security Alliance
The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) is the nation's leading nonprofit public-private partnership promoting the safe and secure use of the Internet and digital privacy. Working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), private sector sponsors and nonprofit collaborators to promote cybersecurity awareness, NCSA board members include representatives from ADP, AT&T, Bank of America, BlackBerry, Comcast Corporation, ESET, Facebook, Google, Intel, Logical Operations, Microsoft, PayPal, PKWARE, RSA - the Security Division of EMC, Raytheon, Symantec, Verizon and Visa. Through collaboration with the government, corporate, nonprofit and academic sectors, NCSA's mission is to educate and empower digital citizens to use the Internet securely and safely, protect themselves and the technology they use, and safeguard the digital assets we all share. NCSA leads initiatives for STOP.THINK.CONNECT., a global cybersecurity awareness campaign to help all digital citizens stay safer and more secure online; Data Privacy Day, celebrated annually on January 28 and National Cyber Security Awareness Month, launched every October. For more information on NCSA, please visit staysafeonline.org/about-us/overview/.
About STOP. THINK. CONNECT.STOP. THINK. CONNECT. is the national cybersecurity education and awareness campaign. The campaign was created by an unprecedented coalition of private companies, non-profits and government organizations with leadership provided by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG). The Department of Homeland Security leads the federal engagement in the campaign. Learn how to get involved at STOPTHINKCONNECT.org.
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SOURCE National Cyber Security Alliance