News | Oct. 7, 2019

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

72nd Communications Directorate

Raising awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and to ensure all Americans have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online, National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a collaborative effort between government, through the Department of Homeland Security, and industry.

This year’s message – Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT. – will focus on key areas including citizen privacy, consumer devices and e-commerce security. These three topics will be addressed in the Tinker Take Off this month. 


Own IT. Cybersecurity isn’t limited to just the home or office. When you’re traveling, safe cyber practices are important to secure internet-enabled devices. #BeCyberSmart and use the following tips to connect while on the go.


Before You Travel:

- If you connect, you must protect. The best defense against viruses and malware is to update to the latest security software, web browser and operating systems. Sign up for automatic updates, if possible and protect devices with anti-virus software.

- Back up your information. Back up your data, photos, contacts, etc. to another device or cloud service in case your device is compromised and a reset is necessary.

- Keep it locked. Lock your device when not being used. Use strong PINs and passwords.


During Your Travel:

- Stop auto-connecting. Some devices seek and connect to available wireless networks or Bluetooth devices. Cybercriminals can find this connection and remotely access your devices. Disable this feature so you can choose when to connect to a safe network.

- Stay protected while connected. Be sure the public wireless hotspot (at an airport, cafĂ© or hotel) is a legitimate network; confirm the login procedures with appropriate staff. If using an unsecured public access point, refrain from sensitive activities, such as banking, that require the use of passwords or credit cards. Use only sites that begin with “https://” when shopping or banking.

- Don’t fall for phishing tactics. If unsure who an email is from or if it looks “wrong,” do not respond and do not click on any links or attachments found in that email. 

- Limit info posted on social media, such as locations you like to go, your loved ones’ info and your physical belongings. Keep specific information about yourself private, even including vacation plans. Disable location services that show where you are at a given time. 

- Guard your mobile device. Help prevent theft and unauthorized access by not leaving your devices unattended in public places. Secure your devices while at the airport, in a taxi, on an airplane and in your hotel room.

Online Privacy:

- Double your login protection. Enable multifactor authentication to ensure you’re the only one who has access to your account.  Use MFA for your email, financial, social media and any other service requiring a login.

- Password protocol. Consider using the longest password or phrase permissible. Use different passwords for different sites. 

- Be up to date. Keep your software updated to the latest version available. Maintain security settings and run regular scans on your device.

Social Media Cybersecurity:

- Remember that there is no “Delete” button on the internet. Share with care. Even if a post or picture is deleted seconds after posting, chances are that someone saw it.

- Update your privacy settings.  Update security settings to your comfort level for information sharing. Disable geotagging, which allows anyone to see where you are – and where you are not – at any given time.

- Connect only with people you trust. While some social networks might seem safer for connecting because of limited info shared, still adhere to keeping connections only with people you know and trust.

- Comfort levels with what is posted. Report instances of cyberbullying and inappropriate postings. Report suspicious or harassing activity. 

- Keep tabs on your apps. Many appliances, toys and devices are supported with a mobile application. Your mobile device could be filled with suspicious apps running in the background or using default permissions you never realized you approved – such as gathering your personal information without your knowledge while also putting your identity and privacy at risk. Only download apps from trusted vendors and sources.

Internet of Things:

This term refers to objects or devices connected to the internet, which now includes “things” such as cars, appliances, smart watches, lighting, home assistants, home security, health care and more, that can send and receive data. #BeCyberSmart to connect with confidence and protect your interconnected world. 

-  All these types of devices contain sensing devices that can talk to another machine and trigger other actions. These internet-connected devices provide a level of convenience, but they require sharing more information than ever. Security of the devices and the information is not always guaranteed, and your device could potentially be vulnerable to all sorts of risks.

Article source: Department of Homeland Security, National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies at: