National Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Own IT

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which means it’s a great time to reassess your cybersecurity precautions and practices. Security is such an essential part of running any business or enterprise these days that security should be a daily concern. But sometimes, its also important to take the time to step back and think about the larger picture.

That’s why the federal government started National Cybersecurity Awareness Month sixteen years ago. It’s an opportunity for businesses and individuals alike to seriously consider whether their IT security systems are working as well as they should be.

This year for cybersecurity awareness month, the theme is: “Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.” Let’s talk about what that means and how you can use this mantra to improve your approach to IT security. In today’s blog, we will tackle what it means to “Own IT” by discussing ways that taking personal responsibility for your digital profile can improve your online safety.

Own IT

The first part of this year’s cybersecurity awareness effort is a call for you to take control of your online presence. Personal accountability is a crucial aspect of being safe online. There are many ways that you can “own” your web presence. This year’s official guide to National Cybersecurity Awareness Month includes these five key aspects of owning your online presence:

  • Privacy Settings
  • Safe Social Media Posting
  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
  • Internet of Things/Smart Technology
  • Don’t Let Your Tech Own You

Let’s unpack each of these and discuss how you can implement them in your daily life.

Privacy Settings

Many of the websites we use every day already have security precautions built-in. Going into the privacy settings in the programs you use and making sure that your information is secure is an easy and effective first step to owning your personal security. Don’t put it off any longer. Do it today!

Safe Social Media Posting

In the age of social media, many of us walk a thin line between public and private lives. Protecting your private information in such a situation can be hard, but it is absolutely necessary if you want to be safe online.

Some tips for safe social media posting:

–Be careful who you add as a friend

–Use caution when clicking on links

–Ensure your password is effective and use all available security backups

–Don’t share private information

–Update your privacy settings (see above)

–Always log out when you’re done

 

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

A common security pratfall is using devices other than your own. Whether it’s using a public computer or a shared work device, you may think that there’s no harm in it. However, we know that using a shared device significantly increases your exposure to privacy breaches. You can only be sure of your security when you are in total control of the technology you use. That’s why the government agency behind National Cybersecurity Awareness Week is promoting BYOD: Bring Your Own Device.

 

BYOD is becoming increasingly popular in today’s workplaces. Employee-owned technology allows for total control of privacy settings and shields your sensitive information from others. “Owning IT” is both figurative and literal here–if you own your means of connecting to the internet, your ability to protect yourself from cyberattacks is improved. Instead of relying on others to secure your online presence, with BYOD you can take control of your own security.

 

Internet of Things/Smart Technology

Smart technology has made it possible for us to stay connected at all times through myriad devices. From cars to ovens, connectivity is built into all sorts of the things we use. This is what we call the Internet of Things–the vast networks that connect all of our various devices.

When nearly everything has internet capabilities, how can you be sure that your personal information is secure? It’s easy to overlook some aspects of your smart technology’s security. This month, take the time to address every connected device you have and ensure that your privacy settings are properly secured on each of them.

 

Don’t Let Your Tech Own You

The final piece of advice the government gives on how to Own IT is not to let your tech own you. What does that mean? It means that it’s your job to take control of your digital life. Sometimes tech can be intimidating or confusing. Tweaking your security settings is often tedious, but its an essential part of staying safe in the digital world.

Technology is a powerful force. If we let it, it can overwhelm us and keep us from staying safe. With a little effort, you can take control. Assess your vulnerabilities and address them, even if the task seems daunting.

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Owning IT is all about understanding and taking control of your digital profile. While the technology around us can make our lives richer and more convenient, it also puts us at risk of losing our privacy and security. It may take some effort on your part, but Owning IT is a crucial part of staying safe online.

The next blog in our National Cybersecurity Awareness Month series will tackle the second part of this year’s theme: “Secure IT.” Come back then for more advice on how to take steps to improve your cybersecurity both at home and in the workplace.