Stop. Think. Connect.

Expert offers tips to keep your machine clean from cyberattack

Stop. Think. Connect.

National Cyber Security Awareness Month educates people about the simple steps they can take to better protect their personal information and secure their digital lives.

By Michael Kaiser

This October is the 14th annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month, a collaborative effort co-founded and led by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Department of Homeland Security to help people understand how they can be safer and more secure online. NCSAM reminds people of our shared responsibility to protect the internet and the role each of us can play in strengthening our cybersecurity.

This year, we at NCSA are thrilled to kick off what we hope is a bigger than ever NCSAM, as cybersecurity becomes an ever more global issue. NCSAM has grown to include countries around the world and has added international support under the umbrella of Cyber Security Awareness Month. Similar to NCSAM’s theme that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, CSAM’s core message is that the internet is a shared resource and securing it is our shared global responsibility.

Throughout this NCSAM — as in years past — we are highlighting a number of cybersecurity issues: career opportunities and workforce development, awareness and education in the workplace and the growing Internet of Things. We’re also providing a variety of resources for you to use to educate yourself, your loved ones, employees, colleagues and community about online safety and security. At the heart of the campaign, however, is STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™  — simple, actionable advice that anyone can follow by taking security precautions, thinking about the consequences of their actions online and enjoying the benefits of the internet.

STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™, the global cybersecurity education and awareness campaign, provides helpful resources like tip sheets, infographics and videos that are free to download and share – check them out here.

Each week of NCSAM has a theme, based on a different cybersecurity topic or trend. Last week, we highlighted STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ and simple steps to online safety. This week’s theme is “Cybersecurity in the Workplace Is Everyone’s Business.”

Throughout the month and all year round, we’re working to educate people about the basic things they can do to better protect their personal information and secure their digital lives.

Here are seven tips for improving your own cyber hygiene and helping secure the internet for digital citizens around the world. Check them out in this infographic or tip sheet form. Feel free to download and share at them home, work or school, in the community or on social media!

  • Lock down your login: Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media. Strengthen online accounts and use strong authentication tools, like biometrics, security keys or a unique, one-time code through an app on your mobile device, whenever offered.
  • Keep a clean machine: Keep all software on internet-connected devices, including personal computers, smartphones and tablets, current to reduce risk of infection from ransomware and malware.
  • When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to compromise your information. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or, if appropriate, mark as junk.
  • Back it up: Protect your valuable work, music, photos and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely. If you have a copy of your data and your device falls victim to ransomware or other cyber threats, you will be able to restore the data from a backup.
  • Own your online presence: Set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It is OK to limit how and with whom you share information.
  • Share with care: Think before posting about yourself and others online. Consider what a post reveals, who might see it and how it might affect you or others.
  • Personal information is like money. Value it. Protect it.: Information about you, such as purchase history or location, has value, just like money. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and how it is collected by apps, websites and all connected devices.

So, how can you participate in NCSAM and be a part of something big this week? Here are a few easy ways:

  • Get involved on social media. Use the #CyberAware hashtag in your posts, follow us on Facebook and Twitter and download our sample social media content to share before and during the month.
  • Become a NCSAM Champion. Register yourself and/or your organization as a Champion to take action in support of NCSAM and receive materials you can use to spread the word. It’s easy and free to sign up.
  • Join our #ChatSTC Twitter chats. Each week, @STOPTHNKCONNECT is hosting a discussion on a different online safety topic. Visit for the full chat schedule.

Check out our How to Get Involved in NCSAM 2017 infographic for more ideas.

For more information on NCSAM and how you can get involved, visit our NCSAM web portal and check out DHS’ STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ page. We look forward to partnering with you to make this NCSAM the best yet!

Michael Kaiser is the executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, an organization that Raytheon partners with to observe National Cyber Security Awareness Month.  As NCSA's chief executive, Kaiser engages businesses, government and other non-profit organizations with NCSA's broad public education and outreach efforts to strengthen the nation's cyber infrastructure, including leadership of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, NCSA's premier outreach and awareness campaign.

Last Updated: 12/12/2017