October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), an initiative launched by the National Cyber Security Alliance during which organizations work together to educate consumers and institutions on the need for better cybersecurity and identity protection. Cybersecurity was once a term associated with highly skilled professionals working in a data center, intent on keeping sensitive data locked up. Now, however, cybersecurity is a daily concern that impacts people of every age group, demographic, industry, and walk of life.
Your cybersecurity, whether in a workplace setting or just in connection to your own personal information, might be brought into focus during NCSAM events in October, but really, it’s a year-round cause for concern. We live in an era of constant record-setting numbers of data breaches, tens of millions of compromised records each year, and new methods of attack that crop up almost every day. To even begin understanding the importance of events like NCSAM, you first have to look at your cybersecurity from a personal responsibility versus shared responsibility standpoint.
Personal responsibility – This applies to the behaviors you engage in with your technology and the internet. Do you use strong, unique passwords on all of your accounts, and do you change these passwords routinely in case old databases of information are stolen? Do you monitor your accounts routinely, looking over everything from your bank statement to your credit card details to even your medical insurance statements? Are you familiar with the ins and outs of your technology, and do you have a clear understanding of how hackers and cybercriminals can infiltrate it? And lastly, is antivirus software installed on your personal computer and mobile device?
Just by taking some time to think about these very questions and then acting on them, is just one more way you can be more proactive in protecting your identity.
Shared responsibility – Of course, you can’t control everything that happens to your data. It’s required at your doctor’s office, your workplace, your children’s school, and more. It seems like everywhere you turn, someone else has their hand out, expecting you to hand over your most sensitive information. Before doing so, it’s important to ask the requestor the following: How will they protect it? Who will be able to see it? What are they prepared to do if it falls into the wrong hands?
It’s also important to remember that if you don’t get satisfactory answers to these vital questions, you should think twice about sharing your data.
Other steps – You can find out more about ways to protect your data and your personal security, not just this month but all year-long by visiting StaySafeOnline.org, powered by the National Cyber Security Alliance, or checking our blog regularly for more tips on staying cyber safe.
By Eva Velasquez, President/CEO at the Identity Theft Resource Center
Generali Global Assistance proudly provides financial support to the Identity Theft Resource Center.