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PSA: October is Cyber Security Awareness Month

By Hannah Alvarado
Web Content Contributor

From the worthiness of Breast Cancer supporting, to the spooky nature of all things Halloween, October is a month that stands as a month that advocates many things. Even though a good portion of the month relies on scaring you, one thing scary that can terrifying the average college student is the idea of Cybersecurity. Which is just one more thing to add to October’s list, as October also stands as the National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

According to our nation’s Department of Homeland Security’s webpage, 2018 marks as the “15th annual initiative to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity.” The PSA stands as “a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online, while increasing the resiliency of the Nation during cyber-threats.” The month contains five different themes, according to CIS, the Center for Internet Security that relate to cybersecurity awareness. “Week one is simple steps for online safety, week two is cyber from the breakroom to the boardroom, week three is recognizing and combating online crime, four deals with our connectivity to the web and five talks about building resilience in critical systems.”

Rows of black Dell brand computers
Remember to be aware of where you are when sharing personal data. Photo by Hannah Alvarado.

While you may be thinking that none of this really pertains to you, because you’re pretty safe online, after all you ever do is visit Gmail and Instagram, after really reading about the potential risks, one starts to realize that they may be at risk. After all, what measures to most of us take to protect ourselves in the realm of Cybersecurity? Sure, we usually don’t download apps to our phones or programs to our laptops that seem sketchy, or click on random links emailed to us anymore, but the fact is that most of us allow whatever program we are using’s system to do the work for us. Quite often, when there is free Wi-Fi, we connect to it, if there is an app that wants our location, we give it without thinking, some people even use the same easy-to-guess password for everything they log into from their student accounts to their bank accounts. More than that, when is the last time you or anyone you know, actually read the privacy policy or terms of service for anything? These are the things that put us at risk, that NCSAM wants to prevent from leading to disaster in our lives.

Some may be thinking, ‘I don’t have anything on my device worth stealing, so it doesn’t matter!’ That would be a very wrong thing to believe. Simple things, like your address or your full name can allow anyone who may be looking a gateway to steal your identity. Which, regardless of your possibly empty bank account, or non-existent credit card, wrack up a whole lot more debt for you than just your student loans.

How then, do normal people take steps to protect themselves? According to Cornell University, there are a few easy things you can do to ensure your safety. Secure your Wi-Fi network with a strong password, enable stronger authentication, stay updated on software, know your apps and what data they may keep or share with third parties, and lastly consider what you share and with who. These among many others, like covering your webcam or iPhone camera with a lens cover when not in use, are simple steps to take that can keep you safe this and every October. Cybersecurity is no joke, and is much scarier than anything on TV this month.

Featured image by Hannah Alvarado.

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