How to Be Cyber-Secure: Raising Awareness

National Cyber Security Awareness Month is an annual tradition that provides resources for online safety. At PeopleSmart, we continuously support the need for trust and security on the Internet. Your information is valuable—be aware of how you use it and learn how you can protect it.`

What is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM)?

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security teamed up with the National Cyber Security Alliance to create National Cyber Security Awareness Month. This October marks the 12th year of raising security-awareness for organizations and online consumers of all ages. This year, the theme is Cyber Security as a shared responsibility.


For five years, the STOP.THINK.CONNECT. campaign has spread its simple message: be cautious on the Internet, understand the consequences of your online interactions, and safely explore all that the Internet has to offer. In other words, be in control of your online information by taking a few simple steps:

  • STOP. Before you go online, understand how to safely use the Internet by learning about potential risks.
  • THINK. Consider how you interact online, and identify the results of your actions.
  • CONNECT. Once you know how to protect your security online, you can interact safely and freely.

Online Security Best Practices

The STOP.THINK.CONNECT campaign includes a list of tips to securely navigate the Internet. Here are some highlights:

  1. Keep your software current.

  2. Protect devices that access the Internet by making sure that you have up-to-date security software in place. Upgrading to the newest operating system is one of the best ways to keep up with security fixes.

  3. Verify, verify, verify.

    Here at PeopleSmart, one of our favorite security measures is the 2-step verification. Many login flows offer the option to verify your password by more than just entering it on the site. Requiring a verification code, which is sent as an alert to your phone, offers a second layer of protection.

  4. Ditch the go-to password.

    It’s easier to remember your passwords if you only use one, right? Unfortunately, using a single password for every account means that a single hack can expose all of this information. It will take time to update your passwords, but you don’t have to look far to find reasons for why it’s worth it. Try a password manager to help you develop and keep track of complex passwords.

  5. Your money is yours—protect it.

    When you’re enjoying the ease of online shopping, or interacting with any finances online, check the URL. If there is a lock icon next to the web address, and the URL begins with either “https://” or “shttp://” this means that the site provider took measures to make the site more secure. While a URL that starts with “http://” may be an OK site to browse, it’s not secure enough to enter your personal information.

  6. Back it all up.

    Use a tool such as an external hard drive to back up the information that you store on your computer. If a virus or an intruder finds a way onto your device, you will still have your backed up files, pictures, contacts, and other important information.

Now what?

Everyone can take steps to help protect their information and identity online. With a little effort, we can regain some control over our own information. Awareness is a huge first step, now let’s contribute to our shared responsibility.

Throughout the month, we will provide information, tips, and resources to raise awareness for the importance of online security. Check out our Privacy Education center for more information on our own privacy and security values. Together, let’s promote awareness for how to be secure on the Internet.