10 Years: National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2013

Today marks the beginning of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). This year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of NCSAM. Since its inception a decade ago under leadership from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance, NCSAM has been a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safe and more secure online.

NCSAM is the one month a year that everyone is proactively reminded that online security is everyone’s responsibility. Taking personal responsibility for life begins with you and taking personal responsibility for your security is no different. All of us need to take assertive action if we don’t want to end up in the dark because some criminal hacker decides to attack our critical infrastructure. Everyone has a role in securing their part of cyberspace, including the devices and networks they use. Individual actions have a collective impact and when we use the Internet safely, we make it more secure for everyone.

If each of us does our part—implementing stronger security practices, raising community awareness, educating young people, training employees—together we will be a digital society safer and more resistant from attacks and more resilient if one occurs. This means taking charge of our own security, by investing time and resources to protect our devices and educate ourselves on online safety practices and scams that hackers use.

Here are some basic steps you can take to do your part in this shared responsibility.

  • Update your security: Use up-to-date comprehensive security software and use the latest versions of your Web browser, and operating systems.
  • Update your privacy: When available, make sure to set your privacy and security settings to private or friends only on social media to reduce broad information sharing.
  • Password security: Make passwords long, strong and unique. Use upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols to create a more secure password and don’t use the same password for all your sites.
  • Protect mobiles too: All devices that connect to the Internet are vulnerable. Along with your PC, make sure to protect your Macs, smartphones, tablets and other Internet-enabled devices.
  • Exercise caution when using Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi hotspots are risky. Save your banking and shopping online  for when you are using a secure connection.

To help celebrate and promote online safety, there are many events taking place during NCSAM that McAfee is participating in:

Tweet chat on October 10th at 12pm PT/3pm ET with the National Cyber Security Alliance, Visa, Department of Homeland Security, FTC, Paypal and AT&T on protecting your personal information and your devices safe no matter how you’re accessing the Internet, especially via mobile. Use the hashtag #ChatSTC to join the conversation!

Intel and McAfee, along with the National Cyber Security Alliance, are making it easy for users to participate in NCSAM with Digital Lifehacks. These lifehacks are providing simple tips to stay safe online and are encouraging sharing of this content by offering prizes like an Ultrabook™ and McAfee LiveSafe™ for sharing this content! Learn more atwww.mcafee.com/lifehacks . You can also join in the conversation on Twitter and online by using the hashtag #HackYourLife.

Remember, we all need to be vigilant about our own security—during NCSAM and all year long. Stay safe online!

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!  Disclosures.