Cybersecurity: Make it a HabitCybersecurity is the responsibility of everyone that uses the Internet. To remind us of this important issue, October has been designated as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.
The National Cyber Security Division of Homeland Security is responsible for helping the protection of the cyber infrastructure. Each citizen uses this cyber infrastructure each time we use the Internet. By proactively educating everyone about Cybersecurity, it will lower our nation's vulnerabilities on the Internet and lower our collective risk. Securing cyberspace is a difficult strategic challenge that requires coordinated and focused effort from our entire society—the federal government, state and local governments, the private sector, and the American people.
By protecting yourself on the Internet, you also protect others.
Start with the Basics: Three Core Practices
- Install anti-virus and anti-spyware programs and keep them up to date.
- Install a firewall and keep it properly configured
- Regularly install updates for your computer's operating system
Make Ongoing Learning Easy with US-CERT TipsCybersecurity is an evolving issue. The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) Security Tips provide advice on common security topics, such as privacy, email spam, and wireless protection. The tips are sent to your e-mail once a month so that you can continuously stay up to date with changing technologies and threats. You can sign up to receive this information by visiting: http://www.dhs.gov/ or http://www.us-cert.gov/
Check Your Updates: Make it a HabitMaking Cybersecurity a habit will help you protect your information and prevent your computer from being used to launch an attack. Remind yourself and those around you about cyber protection measures with posters and booklets:
Sick of e-mail scams? Phishing is a scam where scammers send spam or pop-up messages to lure personal and financial information from unsuspecting victims. Take these steps to avoid getting swindled:
- Stay safe: Don't reply to e-mail or pop-up messages that ask for personal or financial information. Don't click on links in the message. Don't cut and paste a link from the message into your Web browser. Scammers can make links look as though they go to a safe site, but will actually send you to a dangerous Web site.
Why are these warnings important?Like the real world, technology and the internet present dangers as well as benefits. Equipment fails, attackers may target you, and mistakes and poor judgment happen. Just as you take precautions to protect yourself in the real world, you need to take precautions to protect yourself online. For many users, computers and the internet are unfamiliar and intimidating, so it is appropriate to approach them the same way we urge children to approach the real world.
What are some warnings to remember?
- Don't trust candy from strangers - Finding something on the internet does not guarantee that it is true. Anyone can publish information online, so before accepting a statement as fact or taking action, verify that the source is reliable. It is also easy for attackers to "spoof" email addresses, so verify that an email is legitimate before opening an unexpected email attachment or responding to a request for personal information.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is - You have probably seen many emails promising fantastic rewards or monetary gifts. However, regardless of what the email claims, there are not any wealthy strangers desperate to send you money. Beware of grand promises—they are most likely spam, hoaxes, or phishing schemes. Also be wary of pop-up windows and advertisements for free downloadable software—they may be disguising spyware.
- Don't advertise that you are away from home - Some email accounts, especially within an organization, offer a feature (called an autoresponder) that allows you to create an "away" message if you are going to be away from your email for an extended period of time. The message is automatically sent to anyone who emails you while the autoresponder is enabled. While this is a helpful feature for letting your contacts know that you will not be able to respond right away, be careful how you phrase your message. You do not want to let potential attackers know that you are not home, or, worse, give specific details about your location and itinerary. Safer options include phrases such as "I will not have access to email between [date] and [date]." If possible, also restrict the recipients of the message to people within your organization or in your address book. If your away message replies to spam, it only confirms that your email account is active. This may increase the amount of spam you receive.
- Lock up your valuables - If an attacker is able to access your personal data, he or she may be able to compromise or steal the information. Take steps to protect this information by following good security practices. Some of the most basic precautions include locking your computer when you step away; using firewalls, anti-virus software, and strong passwords; installing appropriate software updates; and taking precautions when browsing or using email.
- Have a backup plan - Since your information could be lost or compromised (due to an equipment malfunction, an error, or an attack), make regular backups of your information so that you still have clean, complete copies. Backups also help you identify what has been changed or lost. If your computer has been infected, it is important to remove the infection before resuming your work. Keep in mind that if you did not realize that your computer was infected, your backups may also be compromised.
Report a computer or network vulnerability to the
Incident Hotline: 1-888-282-0870
Or if you have general questions about Cybersecurity you can contact the Tama County Emergency Management Agency at: 641-484-6261