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October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Each and every one of us is responsible for ensuring our digital lives remain private and secure—at home and in the workplace. That’s what National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), held every October, is all about. 

NCSAM is a collaborative effort between The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and is intended to bring awareness to the role that every individual plays in staying safe and secure online while boosting our nation’s security posture against cyber threats. 

This year, the overarching theme of NCSAM is “OWN IT. SECURE IT. PROTECT IT.” which stresses the importance of taking proactive steps to boost cybersecurity at home and in the workplace. At Virtru, we talk a lot about the impact of cybersecurity on an organization but the reality is that cybersecurity impacts your personal life too. So, no matter your industry, job title, or familiarity with cybersecurity concepts, understanding these three key pillars of NCASM will set you on the right path towards a more secure digital presence both at home and in the workplace.  

OWN IT: Understand your digital profile.

As we discussed recently, the sheer number of connected devices is rapidly growing and Gartner predicts over 20 billion IoT units to be installed by 2020. Connected devices open up a world of opportunity. That said, it is critical for individuals to “own” the connected devices they use in order to ensure the digital privacy and security of the information these devices create, process and store. This means understanding the devices and applications you use every day, and the risks associated, then taking steps to secure and protect them.

Practical tips for understanding your digital profile:

  • Don’t overshare on social media. Avoid posting real names, places you frequently visit and home, school, and work locations. This makes it harder for cybercriminals to find the personal information they are after.
  • Keep tabs on your apps. Make sure your phone or tablet isn’t running any suspicious or out-of-date apps. Regularly performing app updates ensures that your software runs smoothly.
  • Not all apps are created equal. Only download apps from trusted sources and always review app permissions.

SECURE IT: Secure your digital profile

Bad actors are very good at getting personal information from unsuspecting victims. As technology evolves, their attacks are also getting more sophisticated. By applying additional layers of security to your online accounts, you can take back control of your personal information. Inboxes are a treasure trove for cybercriminals, but there are simple steps you can take today for better Gmail security. 

Practical tips for securing your digital profile:

  • When it comes to passphrases, mix it up. Make sure they are easy to remember (so you don’t have to write it down and risk someone seeing it) and unique. 
  • No matter how strong your passphrase is, make it harder for someone to gain access to your account by enabling multi-factor authentication. 
  • If you’re unsure who an email is from, don’t respond and don’t click on any links or attachments. Always be on the lookout for phishing emails.
  • For ultimate security within your business, consider adopting a data-centric approach to secure sensitive information. 

PROTECT IT: Maintain your digital profile

Any device that connects to the internet is vulnerable to risks and every action you take online has a digital trail that can be exploited by bad actors. In order to protect your digital profile at home and in the workplace, be sure to routinely perform “digital hygiene” and check your privacy settings and permissions. 

Practical tips for maintaining your digital profile:

  • Turn on auto-updates. A good defense is to keep device security software, web browser and operating systems up to date.
  • Limit what you do on public Wi-Fi, especially when it comes to logging in to key accounts such as banking and email. If possible, use your personal hotspot instead. 
  • If you collect it, protect it. Any data your business collects must be safely stored and protected. Consider implementing a data-centric encryption solution to keep you and your business protected. 
  • In the workplace, limit access to sensitive data to only the individuals who require it to perform their jobs. 

Cybersecurity is everyone’s job. By taking proactive steps to enhance digital privacy and security, we can all help stop cyber threats. Perform a security checkup today and follow along with us on Twitter as we share additional tips throughout the month. 

For additional information and resources, visit Stay Safe Online and learn how you can get involved in NCSAM. 

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