National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not that one, the other one – Cybersecurity Awareness Month!

It is a great time to review some of the basics yourself and with your staff. If you are looking for some ideas, check out the toolkit here: https://niccs.us-cert.gov/national-cybersecurity-awareness-month-2019 (part of the Homeland Security website).

As with any good celebration, it has a theme: OWN IT, SECURE IT, PROTECT IT. The entire toolkit is worth saving for reference (and, at 9 pages, an easier and less stressful read than the comments to any given news story.)

Here are some highlights:

  • Own it. Understand your devices and applications, check your privacy settings on the websites you use, use safe social media practices, and don’t let tech own you.
  • Secure it. Criminals are getting better and better. Five years ago most email scams were laughable – poor formatting, poor appearance, poor grammar, misspellings, and outlandish claims. While those persist, there are many more sophisticated attempts made that can fool those who are unwary or in a hurry. Consider changing your passwords or passphrases if you haven’t in awhile, do not reuse passwords, (bonus points for using a password manager) enable multi-factor authentication where available, and pause before you reply with sensitive information to requests that are out of the ordinary or that create a perceived emergency.
  • Protect it. Stay on top of your digital life. Close unused accounts and practice good cyber hygiene and practices. Make sure to do things like change the default passwords on your internet of things devices (you know, stuff like your smart refrigerator, your smart camera, and your smart socks.)

It has been said that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Well, it is now the price of being a part of the digital world. As the sergeant in Hill St. Blues used to say, “Let’s be careful out there.”

Written by:

Michael J. Polk, Chair, South Carolina Bar Technology Committee
Belser & Belser
Columbia, SC

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