“See Yourself in Cyber.” That is a tagline you will surely start seeing more often as those of us with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) work to help ensure a secure and resilient critical infrastructure for the American people. See Yourself in Cyber is the theme for Cybersecurity Awareness Month this year and it serves as a call to action.
At CISA, we often tell people that cybersecurity is a team sport. No single Airman, agency, organization, business or individual can confront today’s numerous and varied cybersecurity challenges alone. However, it isn’t hopeless! There are several simple things that you can do at home and on base to vastly improve your online security.
In the digital world we live, nearly everything is connected to the internet. This connectivity has brought about great advances and conveniences for us. But it has also made us vulnerable to online attacks and the threat is growing daily from hackers and cybercriminals.
You might now be wondering how these cybersecurity challenges affect you.
Today, cybergangs and foreign adversaries are operating from every corner of the world attempting to steal your money, information, even your entire identity. Your login to streaming services, electronic banking, emails, and even online shopping can reveal openings for hackers.
You have to understand that the threat is real. Malicious actors in foreign countries around the world are working to disrupt or disable our infrastructure by attempting to hack into our computer systems. Cyber criminals are constantly looking to profit from poor cybersecurity practices through ransomware. Critical infrastructure like power grids and water treatment systems are being targeted. County and city governments are being targeted. And ordinary individuals are also increasingly being targeted. We have seen hospitals, school systems, and businesses large and small fall victim to cyber-criminals here in Nebraska this year.
This brings me back to that tagline I mentioned earlier. “See Yourself in Cyber.” YOU have to play a role in our collective cybersecurity. You can’t sit on the sidelines and simply hope you don’t become a victim of a cyber-crime. You are a target.
Here is my call to action.
First, enable multi-factor authentication on all of your online accounts. In basic terms this means relying on more than just a password to access your accounts, opting into an extra step to validate your identity when your trusted websites and applications ask you to confirm it is really you. If you do nothing else, this simple step can make you significantly less likely to be the victim of a cyber criminal.
Second, use strong passwords. Everyone has heard this one before, but it truly is one of the easiest ways to improve your cybersecurity. Strong passwords include one uppercase letter, at least one number, and 11 or more characters.
Third, learn to recognize and report phishing scams. Phishing scams are rampant, and they’re designed to fool you into revealing passwords, account numbers and other sensitive personal information. These fraudulent emails often appear to be from someone you know or a company you do business with, containing a link or webpage that looks legitimate. Even if an email looks familiar, beware of any requests to change your password or verify account information. And never click on links that you suspect may be a scam.
Finally, update the software on all your devices regularly. Better yet, turn on automatic updates for all your devices, and keep your systems and software up to date as soon as updates become available. Software updates contain valuable security patches that can protect you online. These tips and much more free information and services can be found on our website www.CISA.gov.
Again, See Yourself in Cyber. See yourself taking action to stay safe online and see yourself being part of the solution. Cybersecurity is a team sport, and you are a valuable part of the team.