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National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) – observed every October – was created as a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online.

Since its inception under leadership from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance, NCSAM has grown exponentially, reaching consumers, small and medium-sized businesses, corporations, educational institutions and young people across the nation. 2018 marks the 15th year of National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

With recent legislation and support from the White House, cybersecurity is continuously a popular topic of discussion and rightfully so. More specifically, there is even stronger focus on consumers and their cyber safety. Everyone at every age is a consumer, and thus this year each theme will focus on the consumer and his/her needs regarding cybersecurity and safety. NCSAM 2018 also marks the 8th anniversary of the STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ campaign. Each year, NCSAM highlights the overall message of STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ and the capstone concepts of the campaign, like “Keep a Clean Machine,” “Protect Your Personal Information,” “Connect with Care,” “Be Web Wise,” “Be a Good Online Citizen,” “Own Your Online Presence” and “Lock Down Your Login.”

 

Week 1: Oct. 1­–5: Make Your Home a Haven for Online Safety 

Every day, parents and caregivers teach kids basic safety practices ‒ like looking both ways before crossing the street and holding an adult’s hand in a crowded place. Easy-to-learn life lessons for online safety and privacy begin with parents leading the way. Learning good cybersecurity practices can also help set a strong foundation for a career in the industry. With family members using the internet to engage in social media, adjust the home thermostat or shop for the latest connected toy, it is vital to make certain that the entire household ‒ including children – learn to use the internet safely and responsibly and that networks and mobile devices are secure. Week 1 will underscore basic cybersecurity essentials the entire family can deploy to protect their homes against cyber threats.

 

Week 2: Oct. 8–12: Millions of Rewarding Jobs: Educating for a Career in Cybersecurity

A key risk to our economy and security continues to be the shortage of cybersecurity professionals to safeguard our ever-expanding cyber ecosystem. Raising the next generation of interested and capable cybersecurity professionals is a starting point to building stronger defenses. There are limitless opportunities to educate students of all ages – from high school into higher education and beyond – on the field of cybersecurity as they consider their options. In addition, veterans and individuals who are looking for a new career or re-entering the workforce, should explore the multitude of well-paying and rewarding jobs available. Week 2 will address ways to motivate parents, teachers and counselors to learn more about the field and how to best inspire students and others to seek highly fulfilling cybersecurity careers.

 

Week 3: Oct. 15–19: It’s Everyone’s Job to Ensure Online Safety at Work

When you are on the job – whether it’s at a corporate office, local restaurant, healthcare provider, academic institution or government agency ‒ your organization’s online safety and security are a responsibility we all share. And, as the lines between our work and daily lives become increasingly blurred, it more important than ever to be certain that smart cybersecurity carries over between the two. Week 3 will focus on cybersecurity workforce education, training and awareness while emphasizing risk management, resistance and resilience. NCSA’s CyberSecure My Business will shed light on how small and medium-sized businesses can protect themselves, their employees and their customers against the most prevalent threats.

 

Week 4: Oct. 22–26: Safeguarding the Nation’s Critical Infrastructure   

Our day-to-day life depends on the country’s 16 sectors of critical infrastructure, which supply food, water, financial services, public health, communications and power along with other networks and systems. A disruption to this system, which is operated via the internet, can have significant and even catastrophic consequences for our nation. Week 4 will emphasize the importance of securing our critical infrastructure and highlight the roles the public can play in keeping it safe. In addition, it will lead the transition into November’s Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, which is spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

 

STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™

Cybersecurity begins with a simple message everyone using the internet can adopt: STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ Take security and safety precautions, understand the consequences of your actions and behaviors online and enjoy the benefits of the internet.

Use National Cyber Security Awareness Month to begin incorporating STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ into your online routine. For more ideas on promoting National Cyber Security Awareness Month, visit the Get Involved page.

 

Our Shared Responsibility

We lead internet-connected, digital lives. From our desks and homes to on the go, we work, learn and play online. Even when we are not directly connected to the internet, our critical infrastructure – the vast, worldwide connection of computers, data and websites supporting our everyday lives through financial transactions, transportation systems, healthcare records, emergency response systems, personal communications and more – impacts everyone.

Cybersecurity is the mechanism that maximizes our ability to grow commerce, communications, community and content in a connected world.

The internet is a shared resource and securing it is Our Shared Responsibility. Our Shared Responsibility is once again the theme for National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2018.

No individual, business or government entity is solely responsible for securing the internet. Everyone has a role in securing their part of cyberspace, including the devices and networks they use. Individual actions have a collective impact and when we use the internet safely, we make it more secure for everyone. If each of us does our part – implementing stronger security practices, raising community awareness, educating young people or training employees – together we will be a digital society safer and more resistant from attacks and more resilient if an attack occurs.

 

This article originally published on StaySafeOnline.org

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