Often times, we may not realize that our actions online might put us, our families, and even our country at risk. Learning about the dangers online and taking action to protect ourselves is the first step in making the Internet a safer place for everyone. Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and we each have a role to play.
Cybersecurity involves preventing, detecting, and responding to cyber incidents. Unlike physical threats that prompt immediate action–like stop, drop, and roll in the event of a fire–cyber threats are often difficult to identify and comprehend. Among these dangers are viruses erasing entire computer systems, intruders breaking into computer systems and altering files, intruders using your computer or device to harm others, or intruders stealing confidential information. The spectrum of cyber risks is limitless. Threats, some more serious and sophisticated than others, can have wide-ranging effects on the individual, community, organizational, and national level. These risks include:
Organized cybercrime, state-sponsored hackers, and cyber espionage can pose national security risks to our country.
Transportation, power, and other services may be disrupted by large scale cyber incidents. The extent of the disruption is highly uncertain as it will be determined by many unknown factors such as the target and size of the incident.
Vulnerability to data breach and loss increases if an organization’s network is compromised. Information about a company, its employees, and its customers could be at risk.
Individually-owned devices such as computers, tablets, mobile phones, and gaming systems that connect to the Internet are vulnerable to intrusion. Personal information may be at risk without proper security.
You can increase your chances of avoiding cyber risks by setting up the proper controls. The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your property before a cyber incident occurs.
Only connect to the Internet over secure, password- protected networks.
Do not click on links or pop-ups, open attachments, or respond to emails from strangers.
Always enter a URL by hand instead of following links if you are unsure of the sender.
Do not respond to online requests for Personally Identifiable Information (PII); most organizations – banks, universities, companies, etc. – do not ask for your personal information over the Internet.
Limit who you are sharing information with by reviewing the privacy settings on your social media accounts.
Trust your gut; if you think an offer is too good to be true, then it probably is.
Password protect all devices that connect to the Internet and user accounts.
Becoming a Friend of the Department of Homeland Security’s Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign and receive a monthly newsletter with cybersecurity current events and tips. Sign up here.
PII is information that can be used to uniquely identify, contact, or locate a single person. PII includes but is not limited to: