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 . 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.

Students Getting Cyberwise to Become Safe and Responsible Digital Citizens

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard unveils the new cyber education module, which was developed in partnership with McAfee and Life Education Australia.
This module expands the Life Education Program that is for primary school children across Australia.












A study called “The Secret Life of Teens 2012 report,” (conducted by TNS Research and commissioned by McAfee) shows an alarming 62% of teens have had a negative experience on a social network and 25% said they had been the victim of cyber bullying. bCyberwise is a program designed to help close that gap. The evidence for developing this program was numerous, but some key points are:

Digital media has become a significant and predominantly positive aspect of the education, leisure and social lives of most of today’s children and young people.

The use of digital media also poses some risks to the safety and well being of children and young people. The most harmful of these appears to be cyber bullying

Other contact risks include exploitive communication, sexting, impersonation, humiliation via doctored images, under-age enrollment on social media sites, and exposure to material that is inappropriate, misleading, unacceptable or illegal

Children and young people need opportunities to learn the skills and values that will enable them to be safe online and become good digital citizens

The middle and upper primary years of schooling represent a sensitive and timely period for introducing students to these skills and values

McAfee and Life Education’s new program content will support the class teacher in this regard, providing an opportunity for young students to learn and practice a set of relevant skills and values (technical, thinking, emotional and social) that are fundamental to the promotion of cyber safety and positive cyber citizenship.

The hope is that being “safe and responsible digital citizens” will hopefully be a part of these students’ lives as they grow up. More info can be found at

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee.  Disclosures.


It’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month

There are few pseudo holiday celebration days or months that truly get my attention. But National Cyber Security Awareness Month definitely does! It’s the one month a year that consumers are consistently reminded by news reporters, government agencies, non-profits and security companies that security is everyone’s responsibility.  All of us need to take actions to protect our personal security, our nation’s critical infrastructure and be good digital citizens.

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), a non-profit public-private partnership focused on cyber security awareness and education for all digital citizens, partnered with McAfee on a new survey to examine U.S. residents’ online safety posture.  The findings reveal a substantial disconnect between our respective online security perceptions and our actual practices while on the Internet. The online safety survey shows that all of us can increase our efforts to make the Internet safer in light of such notable statistics:

90% of Americans agree that a safe and secure Internet is crucial to our nation’s economic security

50% say their job is dependent on a safe and secure Internet and 79% say losing Internet access for 48 consecutive hours would be disruptive

90% of us do not feel completely safe from viruses, malware and hackers while on the Internet

25% of us have been notified by a business, online service provider or organization that our personally identifiable information (e.g. password, credit card number, email address, etc.) was lost or compromised because of a data breach

This data shows that Americans can improve their online safety practices in a number of areas, especially when it comes to accessing the Internet from their personal devices. We can all increase our online safety practices by starting with these simple ways to stay safe online:

Keep your machine clean
Use up-to-date comprehensive security software and use the latest versions of your Web browser, and operating systems.

Own your online presence
When available, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing—it’s good practice limit who you share information with.

Make passwords long, strong and unique
Use a combinations of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols create a more secure password and don’t use the same password for all your sites.

Protect all your devices that connect to the Internet
Along with your PC, make sure to protect your Macs, smartphones, tablets and other Internet-enabled devices.

Connect with care
Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots and the potential risks of using them. Also, when banking and shopping, check to be sure the site’s security is enabled.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Evangelist to McAfee. Watch him discussing information he found on used electronic devices YouTube. (Disclosures)