Cybersecurity Awareness Month Helps Us All be #BeCyberSmart
October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which is led by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)—a national non-profit focused on cybersecurity education & awareness in conjunction with the U.S. government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). McAfee is pleased to announce that we’re a proud participant.
If there’s ever a year to observe Cybersecurity Awareness Month, this is it.
As millions worked, schooled, and simply entertained themselves at home (and continue to do so) this year, internet usage increased by up to 70%. Not surprisingly, cybercriminals followed. Looking at our threat dashboard statistics for the year so far, you’ll see:
- 113,000+ new malicious websites and URLS referencing COVID-19
- 5+ Million threats that exploit COVID-19
- A large spike in trojan-based attacks in April followed by a higher spike in July and August
And that doesn’t account for the millions of other online scams, ransomware, malicious sites, and malware out there in general—of which COVID-19-themed attacks are just a small percentage.
With such a high reliance on the internet right now, 2020 is an excellent year to observe Cybersecurity Awareness Month, along with its focus on what we can do collectively to stay safer together in light of today’s threats.
Unified under the hashtag #BeCyberSmart, Cybersecurity Awareness Month calls on individuals and organizations alike to take charge of protecting their slice of cyberspace. The aim, above making ourselves safer, is to make everyone safer by having us do our part to make the internet safer for all. In the words of the organizers, “If everyone does their part – implementing stronger security practices, raising community awareness, educating vulnerable audiences or training employees, our interconnected world will be safer and more resilient for everyone.”
Throughout October, we’re participating as well. Here in our blogs and across our broad and ongoing efforts to boost everyone’s awareness and expertise in cybersecurity and simply staying safe online, we’ll be supporting one key theme each week:
Week of October 5: If You Connect It, Protect It
If you’ve kept up with our blogs, this is a theme you’ll know well. The idea behind “If you connect it, protect it” is that the line between our lives online and offline gets blurrier every day. For starters, the average person worldwide spends nearly 7 hours a day online thanks in large part to mobile devices and the time we spend actively connected on our computers. However, we’re also connecting our homes with Internet of Things (IoT) devices—all for an average of 10 connected devices in our homes in the U.S. So even when we don’t have a device in our hand, we’re still connected.
With this increasing number of connections comes an increasing number of opportunities—and challenges. During this weel, we’ll take a look at how internet-connected devices have impacted our lives and how you can take steps that reduce your risk.
Week of October 12 (Week 2): Securing Devices at Home and Work
As we shared at the open of this article, this year saw a major disruption in the way we work, learn, and socialize online. There’s no question that our reliance on the internet, a safe internet, is greater than before. And that calls for a fresh look at the way people and businesses look at security.
This week of Cybersecurity Awareness Month will focus on steps users and organizations can take to protect internet connected devices for both personal and professional use, all in light of a whole new set of potential vulnerabilities that are taking root.
Week of October 19 (Week 3): Securing Internet-Connected Devices in Healthcare
Earlier this year, one of our articles on telemedicine reported that 39% of North Americans and Europeans consulted a doctor or health care provider online for the first time in 2020. stand as just one example of the many ways that the healthcare industry has embraced connected care. Another noteworthy example comes in the form of internet-connected medical devices, which are found inside care facilities and even worn by patients as they go about their day.
As this trend in medicine has introduced numerous benefits, such as digital health records, patient wellness apps, and more timely care, it’s also exposed the industry to vulnerabilities that cyber criminals regularly attempt to exploit. Here we’ll explore this topic and share what steps both can take do their part and #BeCyberSmart.
Week of October 26 (Week 4): The Future of Connected Devices
The growing trend of homeowners and businesses alike connecting all manner of things across the Internet of Things (IoT) continues. In our homes, we have smart assistants, smart security systems, smart door locks, and numerous other home IoT devices that all need to be protected. Businesses manage their fleets, optimize their supply chain, and run their HVAC systems with IoT devices, which also beg protection too as hackers employ new avenues of attack, such as GPS spoofing. And these are just a fraction of the applications that we can mention as the world races toward a predicted 50 billion IoT devices by 2030.
As part of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we’ll look at the future of connected devices and how both people and businesses can protect themselves, their operations, and others.
Give yourself a security checkup
As Cybersecurity Awareness Month ramps up, it presents an opportunity for each of us to take a look at our habits and to get a refresher on things we can do right now to keep ourselves, and our internet, a safer place. This brief list should give you a great start, along with a catalog of articles on identity theft, family safety, mobile & IoT security, and our regularly updated consumer threat notices.
Use strong, unique passwords
Given the dozens of accounts you need to protect—from your social media accounts to your financial accounts—coming up with strong passwords can take both time and effort. Rather than keeping them on scraps of paper or in a notebook (and absolutely not on an unprotected file on your computer), consider using a password manager. It acts as a database for all your passwords and stores new codes as you create them. With just a single password, you can access all the tools your password manager offers.
Beware of messages from unknown users
Phishing scams like these are an old standard. If you receive an email or text from an unknown person or party that asks you to download software, share personal information, or take some kind of action, don’t click on anything. This will steer you clear of any scams or malicious content.
However, more sophisticated phishing attacks can look like they’re actually coming from a legitimate organization. Instead of clicking on a link within the email or text, it’s best to go straight to the organization’s website or contact customer service. Also, you can hover over the link and get a link preview. If the URL looks suspicious, delete the message and move on.
Use a VPN and a comprehensive security solution
Avoid hackers infiltrating your network by using a VPN, which allows you to send and receive data while encrypting – or scrambling – your information so others can’t read it. By helping to protect your network, VPNs also prevent hackers from accessing other devices (work or personal) connected to your Wi-Fi.
In addition, use a robust security software like McAfee® Total Protection, which helps to defend your entire family from the latest threats and malware while providing safe web browsing.
Check your credit
At a time where data breaches occur and our identity is at risk of being stolen, checking your credit is a habit to get into. Aside from checking your existing accounts for false charges, checking your credit can spot if a fraudulent account has been opened in your name.
It’s a relatively straightforward process. In the U.S., the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires credit reporting agencies to provide you with a free credit check at least once every 12 months. Get your free credit report here from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Other nations provide similar services, such as the free credit reports for UK customers.
Be aware of the latest threats
To track malicious pandemic-related campaigns, McAfee Advanced Programs Group (APG) has published a COVID-19 Threat Dashboard, which includes top threats leveraging the pandemic, most targeted verticals and countries, and most utilized threat types and volume over time. The dashboard is updated daily at 4pm ET.