When COVID-19 interrupted our ways of life earlier this year, the internet became even more essential and necessary as friends and loved ones found new ways to stay in touch, employees adapted to teleworking, students took to virtual learning and patients leveraged telehealth as an option for health care.
No doubt, information technology has become embedded in our DNA. We are constantly connected to our phones, tablets, computers, watches, home assistants and even our cars.
Online thieves love it.
Thanks to short-attention spans and busy schedules, we are our biggest vulnerability when it comes to defending ourselves from cybercriminals. But we’re also our best line of defense when it comes to protecting our data and staying safe online.
That’s why National Cybersecurity Awareness Month – each October for the past 17 years – is dedicated to not only raising awareness about the importance of cybersecurity but also ensuring that everyone has the resources and knowledge they need to be safer and more secure online.
This year’s theme is “Do Your Part. #Be CyberSmart.” And that can be as simple as remembering and practicing these habits:
- Be suspicious of unsolicited emails, and if necessary, follow up by phone with the sender.
- Think before you click on links and attachments in suspicious emails.
- Keep your devices’ operating systems and software up to date.
- Download mobile apps only from trusted app stores supported by your devices.
- Avoid sending personal, sensitive, information and passwords in email.
- Use personal hotspots or confirm public Wi-Fi hotspots are legitimate before connecting.
And remember: Everyone is susceptible to cybercrime. That’s why it’s important to report them as well as suspicious activity.
North Carolina residents can call 211 to report and to also be connected to free resources to get help. It’s best for employees to contact their IT departments for guidance and support.
Online safety and security are a responsibility we all share. When armed with education and awareness, we are more equipped to make better choices about what we click and open online and what information we share and what habits we practice.
For more ways to stay safe online, visit it.nc.gov/CyberSecureNC.