Every day the news is filled with fresh warnings from U.S. government agencies regarding the latest cyber intrusions and the importance of internet security. Stolen personally identifiable information (PII) from Equifax, the OPM data breach, Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and Chinese economic espionage — all these cyber events demonstrate the long reach of hackers and nation-states seeking to do the United States harm. They illustrate that cyber breaches threaten U.S. prosperity and national security.
The U.S. Department of the Navy advises that the cyber threat is real and urges the DON family to protect themselves online.
You may be surprised to learn that you are the first line of defense in securing online communications. Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, the Department of Homeland Security says. We must all do our part to keep the internet safe. When we all take simple steps to be safer online, it makes being online a more secure experience for everyone.
From connecting with friends on social media, to business transactions, to online educational forums, it is easy to see that Americans enjoy the convenience and efficiency of digital ease, but these benefits aren't without risks, DHS says. Each time we venture online our communications expose us to cyber criminals and hackers who commit identity theft, fraud and harassment. Every time we connect to the internet the personal information that we share online while banking, shopping and posting on social media presents a huge opportunity for cyber criminals to steal sensitive data to commit crimes.
As more online scams, frauds and data breaches threaten personal and national security, it is critical that everyone makes cybersecurity a priority.
To help protect your online presence, the Department of Homeland Security encourages you to follow these few tips.
- Lock down your login. Usernames and passwords are often not enough to protect important accounts like email, banking, and social media. Fortify your accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as multi-factor authentication for your online accounts and fingerprint identification and security keys to lock your mobile device.
- Keep a clean machine. Regularly update the software on your internet-connected devices, including PCs, smartphones and tablets, to reduce the risk of infection from malware.
- Treat personal information as you would money or other valuables. Information about you, such as your purchase history and location, has value — just like money. Protect your data by being cautious about how your information is collected by apps and websites.
- Own your online presence. Control and limit who can see your information online by checking the privacy and security settings on your accounts and apps. Anything you post publicly could potentially be seen by cyber-criminals, so keep your personal information private.
- Share with care. Think before posting information about yourself and others online. Consider what a post reveals, who might see it, and how it could be perceived now and in the future.
There are many resources to keep you informed of the latest cyber risks and how you can protect your online communications:
-- DHS sponsors Stop.Think.Connect., a national public awareness campaign aimed at increasing the American public’s understanding of cyber threats so we can all be safer and more secure online. Stop.Think.Connect. offers free resources available to everyone tailored to multiple demographics, including small businesses, students, educators and parents, and many others.
-- Learn about the IC3 — and use it if you’re ever a victim. The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a reliable and convenient reporting tool to submit complaints about internet crime and scams to the FBI. The IC3 uses the information from complaints to refer cases to the appropriate law enforcement agencies and to identify trends.
-- If you spot a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint. Your reports help the FTC and other law enforcement agencies investigate scams and bring criminals to justice. If you become a victim of identity theft, file an Identity Theft Report which you can create at IdentityTheft.gov.
-- U.S. Navy Cybersecurity Awareness.
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Sharon Anderson is the CHIPS senior editor. She can be reached at