Although not an official part of the holiday season, having October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month is a good thing. If people can take an awareness of cyber security and turn it into positive actions, maybe the good guys can win the war for the Internet.
From the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website, we find, “The Internet touches almost all aspects of everyone’s daily life, whether we realize it or not. National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) is designed to engage and educate public and private sector partners through events and initiatives to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity, provide them with tools and resources needed to stay safe online, and increase the resiliency of the Nation in the event of a cyber incident.”
Getting beyond clichéd platitudes and disseminating practical knowledge about Internet safety and security is a challenge government wonks still struggle with, though. While things have improved over years past, if you are looking for information you can actually use to keep yourself, your family and your business safer, it’s hard for me to recommend the pooorly-organized Cyber Security Awareness Month section of the DHS website. While there is some good information there, it’s organized in such an oddball way as to drive away their potential audience.
The StaySafeOnline.org/ncsam website is just the opposite of DHS’s offering. Logical in its layout and comprehensive in its approach, there’s something here for everyone. I suggest taking a look at the Cyber Security Awareness Resources Library page and checking out the Future of Internet Security and Privacy video. It is very timely, especially in light of the recently-revealed hacks at Equifax and Yahoo. The Stay Safe Online section is good, too, full of good advice; check out the very timely Responding to Identity Theft and Managing Your Privacy articles. If I could choose only one Cyber Security Awareness Month-themed website, it would be this one.
After some Cyber Security education, check out the security testing tools at www.auditmypc.com. Here, you can test your computer’s firewall, see what your “digital footprint” is and test your Internet speed. Make sure you have Java updated, as some of the tools depend on it. Be careful not to accidentally “update” your browser’s setting when doing the update; read the update screens thoroughly before proceeding. You’re getting those Java updates, anyway, though, right?
Cyber security awareness and education is vital to your well-being. Keep reading this column and I will show you how you can become the best cyber-safe citizen you can be.