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October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). Essentially, it is a collaboration between industries and the government to raise everyone’s awareness of the importance of protecting ourselves online. It was established to provide people with resources on how to ensure their security and online safety.

It seems that every few months there is a news story about hackers who have exposed the personal information of millions of people. This data that is collected can include addresses, birthdates, and social security numbers. People’s personal information has been used by criminals to not only steal money, but to attack electrical power grids, expose secrets, and mess with political elections.

The month is broken down into different topics every week. This has helped interested groups to identify and become involved with a specific theme. The NCSAM delivers a strong message every year: “Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.” The topics range from password protocols, social media safety, consumer devices, and security software.

Here is a brief breakdown of what NCSAM wants everyone to consider.

Owning IT

This aspect of security practices includes how to stay safe on social media by avoiding the act of oversharing one’s personal information on social platforms. It also provides information on staying up to date on privacy settings and making sure that whenever possible your social sites are set to “private.” Downloading safe mobile apps and paying attention to what you’re giving permission to is also highlighted under the “Own it” umbrella.

Securing IT

To secure IT it’s important to double down on your login information by using a multi-factor authentication process and creating unique, strong passwords that are different for various websites. While this may be an annoyance to some people it’s much more of a frustration to find out that your passwords have been compromised and then dealing with the aftermath that can ensue if you’ve used the same password for everything.

Another point that falls under this category is how to safely shop online. With platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, it’s easy to make purchases from sites that may not be reputable and end up losing money or receiving something other than what you’d wanted.

Furthermore, learning how to recognize phishing scams is a task that everyone should undertake.

Protecting IT

Protecting IT means updating your security software and operating systems. It’s also suggested to proceed with caution when deciding to use public Wi-Fi. Most importantly, there are a plethora of steps one can take to protect your consumer data from threats, both internal and external.

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month boils down to educating the public on the most important aspects of technology. While it seems that most people have at least one smart device that they use every day, there is a huge lack of knowledge when it comes to how technology actually works and what we must do to protect ourselves online. Take the time to do a bit of research and hone your tech skills so that you can navigate online safely. There are great resources to help get you started.