Keep yourself, your personal assets, and private information safe online

Learn the risks associated with using the Internet and how to best protect yourself, your family, and your business from online identity theft and fraud.

Every day across the U.S., countless adults and children are using a smart phone or computer to shop online, make banking transactions, search the Internet and connect with friends using numerous social networks. While technology is a very useful and important part of modern life, it also poses unique threats to our personal information and safety.

In 2009, President Obama asked the DHS to create an ongoing cybersecurity awareness campaign that would better educate the public on the growing problem of cybercrime and offer tips to protect themselves, their families, and the nation from cyber criminals. In response, DHS developed and launched their “Stop.Think.Connect” campaign the following October. Every year since then President Obama has issued a presidential proclamation urging citizens to recognize the important role cybersecurity plays in national security and encouraging them to do their part by partaking in activities, events and trainings in observance of National Cyber Security Awareness Month.  

This year marks the tenth anniversary of National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Celebrated during the month of October, this initiative is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in collaboration with the National Cyber Security Alliance and Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center. Recommendations found on all three websites can and should be followed all year long to practice safe online behavior.

The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), part of the DHS National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) is yet another resource offering numerous publications and tips regarding common security issues for computer, pda and cell phone users. Cell phone users especially are urged to only install apps (software applications designed for mobile devices) from trusted sources, limit use of public “hotspots” (free unsecured Internet access via wi-fi) and completely remove all personal data when disposing of a phone.

If you do feel you have been a victim of phishing or another cybercrime, you are urged by the DHS to report the incident.  The number of serious attacks on important online networks continues to increase. Not only can you become a victim, but our national security could be threatened.  Do your part by first educating yourself about cybersecurity, watching for suspicious incidents, and promptly reporting them.

A variety of options exist for those who want to become even more involved year round to promote cybersecurity awareness in their community and help combat cybercrime. Individuals can sign up to become a Friend of the Campaign, receiving information that you can share to improve online safety in your community.

If you are affiliated with a non-profit organization, urge your group to promote cybersecurity by becoming a member of the National Network.  Current National Network members include 4-H, a youth development program that is an integral part of Michigan State University Extension.   

Federal agencies, state, local, tribal, and Territorial governments can assist by promoting awareness about cyber threats and online safety practices within their organizations as well as to their stakeholders and the public by joining the Cyber Awareness Coalition.

Make it a priority to protect yourself, your family, your community and your country by learning how to be cyber secure.

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