Napolitano to Address Urgent Need for ‘Cyber Hygiene’

As part of its sixth annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the Department of Homeland Security is sponsoring a series of events throughout October centered around “Our Shared Responsibility,” the theme of this year’s observance directed to all computer users, not just those in industry and government. The latest event in the awareness campaign happens today at 11 a.m. EDT, when DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano is scheduled to deliver a live address via webcast at www.dhs.gov.

DHS says Napolitano will use the venue to discuss the nation’s urgent need to counter the threat of cyber attacks, every computer users’ responsibility for staying safe online, and the leadership role DHS itself is playing on cybersecurity. The address will be designed to reinforce the agency’s message encouraging everyone who uses a computer to practice good “cyber hygiene” and to protect themselves and their families at home, work, and school.

Following her remarks, Napolitano will take questions via e-mail from the audience about cybersecurity. You can personally submit a question to the secretary about cybersecurity by visiting www.dhs.gov, clicking the links on the Homeland Security Live section, and following the prompts.

On its Web site, DHS says that Americans can follow a few simple steps to keep themselves safe online. By doing so, users will not only keep their personal assets and information secure but also help to improve the overall security of cyberspace. The department says if you use a computer, you should:

Take Action

  • Make sure that you have anti-virus software and firewalls installed, properly configured, and up-to-date. New threats are discovered every day, and keeping your software updated is one of the easier ways to protect yourself from an attack. Set your computer to automatically update for you.
  • Update your operating system and critical program software. Software updates offer the latest protection against malicious activities. Turn on automatic updating if that feature is available.
  • Back up key files. If you have important files stored on your computer, copy them onto a removable disc and store it in a safe place.

Endorse-- Demonstrate your commitment to cybersecurity.

  • Show your organization's commitment to cybersecurity and National Cybersecurity Awareness Month by signing the online endorsement form at www.staysafeonline.org.
  • Create a section for cybersecurity on your organization's Web site. Download banners at www.staysafeonline.org and post them on your organization's home page.
  • Add a signature block to your e-mail: "October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Stay Safe Online! Visit www.staysafeonline.org http:// for the latest cybersecurity tips."

Educate -- Find out what more you can do to secure cyberspace and how you can share this with others.

  • Participate in the National Cyber Security Alliance Cyber Security Awareness Volunteer Education (C-SAVE) Program and help educate elementary, middle, and high-school students about Internet safety and security. For more information or to download the C-Save curriculum, visit www.staysafeonline.org/content/c-save.
  • Review the following cybersecurity tips with your family and/or coworkers:
    -- Know who you're dealing with online.
    -- Keep your Web browsers and operating system up to date.
    -- Back up important files.
    -- Protect your children online.
    -- Use security software tools as your first line of defense.
    -- Use strong passwords or strong authentication technology to help protect your personal information.
    -- Learn what to do if something goes wrong.
  • Print and post the above tips near your computer and network printers.
  • Use regular communications in your business--newsletters, e-mail alerts, Web sites, etc.--to increase awareness on issues like updating software processes, protecting personal identifiable information, and securing your wireless network.

For more information on Awareness Month and for additional material, visit www.us-cert.gov and www.staysafeonline.org/ncsam.

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