WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Individuals and organizations around the world are marking the start of the 13th annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), a widespread initiative co-founded and led annually in October by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). NCSAM was created to empower everyone online to be safer, more secure and better able to protect their personal information. Kicking off with events across Washington State on Oct. 4 and 5, NCSAM 2016 highlights the theme "Our Shared Responsibility," emphasizing the role each person plays in promoting a more trusted internet. A recent Raytheon survey of adults ages 18 to 26 reveals that young people are paying increased attention to their role in cybersecurity as well; 92 percent of U.S. respondents agree that keeping the internet safe and secure is a responsibility we all share, up 8 points from 84 percent in 2015.
The European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) will launch European Cyber Security Awareness Month on Sept. 30 in Brussels, Belgium.
"As every one of us, our families and our communities become increasingly connected, it becomes even more critical to practice good cybersecurity habits," said Michael Kaiser, NCSA's executive director. "Each October is the commencement of a new effort to help every digital citizen and business across the globe learn how to take simple security precautions to protect themselves and their personal information and share the responsibility of protecting others online."
NCSAM 2016 comes on the heels of the announcement of Lock Down Your Login, a STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ initiative led by the White House and the National Cyber Security Alliance and developed by a coalition of industry leaders and like-minded organizations working in collaboration with government who understand the importance of cybersecurity awareness and education. The campaign was built upon a broad, coordinated effort to increase consumer awareness of our individual and collective roles in cybersecurity. In February 2016, President Obama issued the Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP), part of which called upon NCSA to develop a campaign under STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ to encourage Americans to move beyond just the password to leverage multiple factors of authentication when logging in to online accounts (see White House Fact Sheet). Usernames and passwords are not enough to secure online accounts, and Lock Down Your Login aims to promote the rapid adoption of strong authentication and secure login tools and technologies that make it easier and more convenient for everyone to use the internet with greater peace of mind. The Lock Down Your Login campaign represents how the public and private sectors can work together in collaboration with the shared goal of making the internet safer, more secure and more trusted. Visit lockdownyourlogin.com to learn more.
"A recent NCSA/Microsoft survey of 13- to 17-year-old teens and parents of 13- to 17-year-olds revealed a strong interest in securing personal information – both parents and teens said that preventing identity theft is the top online safety topic they would like to learn more about," said Kaiser. "The Lock Down Your Login campaign comes at a great time, as NCSAM launches, and highlights a simple call to action that will help internet users reduce their risk of identity theft by adding extra protection to the key apps, accounts and websites they use."
It's easy to get involved and support NCSAM. Individuals, companies and organizations of all sizes are encouraged to become Champions. Currently there are more than 775 NCSAM Champions (535 organizations and 240 individuals) – corporations, governments and individuals worldwide who will play an active role in sharing important cybersecurity messages at home, in their local communities, and at work. Learn how to become a Champion here.
NCSAM 2016 is also the sixth anniversary of STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™, the global online safety awareness and education campaign led by NCSA and the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) and with federal engagement led by DHS. STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ is based on simple, actionable advice that anyone can follow to be safer online. The campaign has grown substantially since its inception, with more than 460 small and large businesses, nonprofits, educational institutions and other organizations registered as STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ partners, resources available in five languages and active partnerships around the world. View a list of STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ partners and sign up to join the campaign here.
"Every year for the last 12 years we have seen increasing support for and engagement in NCSAM," said Kaiser. "We count on small and large businesses, schools, nonprofits and other organizations to get involved and help educate the people they reach and serve about being safer online."
NCSA recommends following these STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ tips throughout October – and year-round – to help yourself and those around you be more #CyberAware:
- Lock Down Your Login: Fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media.
- Keep a clean machine: Keep all software on internet-connected devices – including PCs, smartphones and tablets – up to date to reduce risk of infection from malware.
- Personal information is like money. Value it. Protect it.: Information about you, such as purchase history or location, has value – just like money. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and how it's collected by apps and websites.
- When in doubt, throw it out: Cybercriminals often use links in email, social posts and texts to try to steal your personal information. Even if you know the source, if something looks suspicious, delete it.
- Share with care: Think before posting about yourself and others online. Consider what a post reveals, who might see it and how it could be perceived now and in the future.
- Own your online presence: Set the privacy and security settings on websites and apps to your comfort level for information sharing. It's OK to limit how and with whom you share information.
Check out this infographic for key STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ tips you can follow to be safer and more secure in your everyday online life. Download and share it on social media using the hashtag #CyberAware!
Week 1 NCSAM Resources
- DHS STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ Toolkit: This toolkit provides cyber resources to help you be safer online, host a cyber event or start a cyber discussion. Materials include cyber tip cards on relevant cyber topics like mobile security and social media, presentations and other resources. The toolkit was made for all audiences, including students, teachers, industry, small business, government, law enforcement and young professionals.
- ConnectSafely.org Senior's Guide to Online Safety: ConnectSafely.org's guide is a detailed resource designed for older adults who are exploring the online world. This guide includes tips about communicating safely online, securing accounts, online shopping and dating, scams and much more.
- #CyberAware Newsletter: #CyberAware is a monthly newsletter – created for parents – by NCSA. Each month, the newsletter shares family online safety news and resources and the latest from the Stay Safe Online blog. Sign up to receive the newsletter here.
- LockDownYourLogin.com: Usernames and passwords are no longer enough to keep your accounts secure. Anyone with your username and password can access your account. Visit LockDownYourLogin.com to easily learn how to move beyond the password and better secure your online accounts.
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Resources:
- The FTC's OnGuardOnline portal provides news, tips, resources, videos and more to help you, your family and the community stay safer and more secure online.
- WiFi hotspots, like the ones in coffee shops, airports and hotels, are convenient, but they often aren't secure. Use these tips to help you protect your personal information.
- Norton by Symantec Cyberbullying eBook: In 2015, the Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report found that 27 percent of US parents felt their children were more likely to be bullied online than in the classroom. The Norton Cyberbullying eBook is a conversation guide designed to help parents understand cyberbullying, recognize the warning signs and start a conversation with their children on this sensitive issue.
- NSA Day of Cyber: The NSA Day of Cyber is a free, interactive web platform that enables students to test-drive and experience a day in the life of six NSA cyber professionals. The program introduces students to challenging real-life cyber scenarios while engaging them to explore the growing number of careers in computer science and cybersecurity. You can register here.
- Rethink Cyber Safety Rules and the "Tech Talk" With Your Teens: Today more than ever, teens lead complex online lives and are faced with real-world problems online. As technology continues to become fully integrated into young people's lives, it will be difficult for parents to know everything their children do online. Based on research by NCSA and Microsoft that revealed disconnects between parents and teens on rules and the help seeking behavior of teens online. NCSA revised its recommendations one the family tech talk to help both parents and teens learn how to better recognize and resist online issues and be resilient when faced with problems.
- Hacksy: Hacksy is a fun, interactive security tool that can help you check your passwords, repair leaked or hacked accounts and activate strong authentication. Decoded is offering this tool for free in October in support of NCSAM.
Upcoming NCSAM Events
- NCSAM European Launch, Friday, Sept. 30, Brussels, Belgium: The European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), the European Banking Federation and Europol EC3 will host the launch of European Cyber Security Month with an event in Brussels. Learn more here.
- NCSAM U.S. Launch Events, Tuesday, Oct. 4 – Wednesday, Oct. 5, Bellevue and Spokane, WA: DHS leadership and NCSA will officially kick off NCSAM on Oct. 4 at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue, WA, and follow the launch with events in Bellevue and Spokane on Oct. 5 focusing on education, workforce development and small and medium-sized business initiatives. Learn more about and register for the Bellevue events here. Spokane event details and registration can be found here.
- #ChatSTC Twitter Chat – STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™: The Basics of Online Safety, Thursday, Oct. 6, 3 p.m. EDT/noon PDT: This #ChatSTC Twitter chat will discuss simple ways you can protect yourself, your family and your community online, and explore how to engage young people in responsible technology use and pursue careers devoted to protecting the internet. Use #ChatSTC to join!
- IMCP West Coast Summit on Minority Underrepresentation in Cybersecurity, Thursday, Oct. 6, 12-6 p.m. (PDT), Symantec Headquarters, Mountain View, CA: Cybersecurity thought leaders will hold a series of expert panels and audience-driven discussions and examine ways to further the inclusion of underrepresented minorities in the field. Learn more and register for the event here.
- The Mid-South Cyber Security Summit, Friday, Oct. 14, FedEx Institute of Technology, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN: The Cyber Security Summit is an annual event bringing together cybersecurity leaders in government, corporations and research to address the most pressing concerns and emerging trends facing our society today. The 2016 event, hosted by NCSA, the FedEx Institute of Technology Cluster for the Advancement of Cybersecurity and Testing (CAST) and the Center for Information Assurance, will focus on new cyber threats and counterintelligence. The event will be livestreamed here. Learn more and register for the Summit here.
- NCSAM Week 3 Keystone Event, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. (PDT), Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, Los Angeles, CA: The City and County of Los Angeles are hosting a keystone event as part of NCSAM week 3; panel discussions will address recognizing and combating cybercrime as a community and cybersecurity for small businesses. Learn more and register for the event here.
All month long, you can follow the NCSAM conversation on social media using the hashtag #CyberAware (and tagging your own posts with #CyberAware, too!). Additionally, @STOPTHNKCONNECT will host weekly Twitter chats throughout October to discuss different topics and trends in cybersecurity. Tune in each Thursday at 3 p.m. EDT to join the conversation, and visit the STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™, website for the full chat schedule. NCSA has created sample social media posts, infographics, posters, memes and more that encourages organizations and individuals to show their support for NCSAM and that can be downloaded and shared. You can also get the latest resources as they are available by registering as a NCSAM Champion. Finally, check out the Stay Safe Online blog for NCSAM posts from NCSA and partners during the month of October.
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 13th year, NCSAM is co-founded and co-led by the U. S. 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, nonprofits, academia, multinational corporations and governments. Encouraging digital citizens 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 to learn more.
About the National Cyber Security Alliance
The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) is the nation's leading nonprofit, public-private partnership promoting cybersecurity and privacy education and awareness. NCSA works with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and NCSA's Board of Directors, which includes representatives from ADP; AT&T Services, Inc.; Bank of America; Barclays; BlackBerry Corporation; Cisco; Comcast Corporation; ESET North America; Facebook; Google; Intel Corporation; Logical Operations; Microsoft Corp.; NXP Semiconductors; PayPal; PKWARE; Raytheon; RSA, the Security Division of EMC; Salesforce; SANS Institute; Symantec and Visa Inc. NCSA's core efforts include National Cyber Security Awareness Month (October), Data Privacy Day (January 28) and STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™, the global online safety awareness and education campaign cofounded by NCSA and the Anti Phishing Working Group, with federal government leadership from DHS. For more information on NCSA, please visit staysafeonline.org/about-us/overview/.
About STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™
STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ is the global cybersecurity education and awareness campaign. The campaign was created by an unprecedented coalition of private companies, nonprofits and government organizations with leadership provided by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG). The U.S. Department of Homeland Security leads the federal engagement in the campaign. Learn how to get involved at stopthinkconnect.org.
 Keeping Up With Generation App: NCSA Parent/Teen Online Safety Survey (https://staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/resources/research-findings-keeping-up-with-generation-app-ncsa-parent-teen-online-safety-study)
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SOURCE National Cyber Security Alliance