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by Dave Moore, 10-14-18

Although not an official part of the holiday season, having October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) is a good thing. If people can have an awareness of cyber security and stay safe, maybe the good guys can win the war for the Internet.

From the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website, in the section devoted to the subject, we find, “NCSAM 2018 takes a two-part, synced approach to facilitating discussion and emphasis on cybersecurity as our shared responsibility.”

What? Does anyone understand what that really means? I think I sort of understand it, but I would be hard-pressed to justify to anyone else how the subject is presented. The rest of the website follows the same style, seemingly written by government wonks, to be read and understood by government wonks, and praised for their wonkiness by their fellow government wonks. Regular folks, beware.

Getting beyond clichéd platitudes, mind-numbing technospeak, and disseminating practical knowledge about Internet safety and security that the community at large can actually understand is a challenge government wonks still struggle with. While things have improved over years past, if you are looking for information you can use to keep yourself, your family and your business safer, it’s hard for me to recommend the Cyber Security Awareness Month section of the DHS website. There’s some good information there, but it’s presented in such a pointlessly nerdy way as to drive away any 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 for everyone. I suggest taking a look at the Resources Library Videos page and checking out the “Future of Internet Security and Privacy” video found at the bottom of page Two. It is probably the best video on the site, and should be viewed when you can give it thoughtful, undivided attention. The “Stay Safe Online” section is good, too, full of good advice; check out the 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. Don’t click the big, green “Start Now Easy Speed Test” button, though; it’s just an ad. All of the smaller icons for various tests shown on the right side of the page can be very informative, though.

The overall theme of this year’s NCSAM is “Cybersecurity is our shared responsibility.” That sounds nice at first, but I would rather is said, “Cybersecurity is your responsibility.” Otherwise, it implies by default that I am responsible for your lack of responsibility, a notion I reject.

I do my best to be as safe on the Internet as possible, and I train others to be the same way. We should not be held responsible for the actions of our crazy uncle; you know, the one who brags at every Thanksgiving dinner about how he never wears his seatbelt while driving his car.

Cybersecurity is everyones responsibility, and Internet safety 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.

Dave Moore has been fixing computers in Oklahoma since 1984. As founder of the Internet Safety Group, he also teaches Internet safety workshops for public and private organizations. He can be reached at 405-919-9901 or www.internetsafetygroup.com