Can you imagine what life would be like without the Internet? These days we use the Internet for everything from buying goods and services, submitting our taxes, applying for student loans, managing our bank and investment accounts, and even powering our homes.
Even those things we think aren’t directly connected to the Internet usually are: a vast, worldwide system of computers and websites manage and run our financial systems, transportation systems, emergency response systems, communication systems, and healthcare records.
Of course, with all these advantages, increased Internet connectivity brings huge risks, and becoming aware of these risks and protecting ourselves from them is one of our country’s most important national security problems.
To that end, President Obama has declared October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM).
The goal of NCSAM is to educate both the public as well as private industries about the risks to our cybersecurity and increasing our resiliency in the event of a cyber incident.
A Brief History of the National Cyber Security Alliance
NCSAM was started by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), a non-profit founded in 2001. NCSA works with the Department of Homeland Security as well as private sector sponsors, including Microsoft, CISCO, McAfee, Symantec, and others.
The NCSA’s mission is to help educate the public to ensure that they use the Internet securely and safely, and protect both themselves as well as our shared cyber infrastructure.
Just last week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned that the U.S. is at risk of a devastating cyber-attack that could target our power grid, trains carrying dangerous chemicals, water plants, and other critical systems. “This is a pre-9/11 moment. The attackers are plotting,” said Panetta.
What We Can Do to Increase Our Online Security
We all need to do our part to make sure our part of cyberspace is secure. Our individual actions have a collective impact and make the Internet more secure for everyone. If we all do our part, together we can create a more secure and safe digital world.
Below are some general tips for increasing our online security:
- Use complex, strong passwords for all of our online accounts, change them frequently, and do not share them with anyone.
- Keep your computer, browser, and security software optimized by installing updates.
- Limit the amount of personal information you post online. Maximize your privacy settings on Facebook and other social websites to avoid sharing your private information with too many people.
- Be cautious about what you receive and read online. A good rule of thumb is that if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
- Use a VPN like PRIVATE WiFi to encrypt all of your personal data. This encryption protects all your Internet communication from being intercepted by others in wifi hotspots.