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National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2021

Protect yourself from security threats

Did you know that October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM)? This is a month to raise awareness about protecting yourself against security threats, and staying safer and more secure online. Take this opportunity to raise awareness by educating yourself, your family and your friends.

Current Threats

As cyber security threats continue to grow in quantity and sophistication, it is critical that we remain educated on the latest attack methods and scams. Recent threats include social engineering, impersonating calls, email phishing and ransomware.

Impersonating calls are becoming more common and have included fraudsters pretending to be the IRS, the lottery saying you have won, the authorities saying they have a warrant for your arrest, or even vendors who have ‘detected’ a threat on your PC. If you receive a call, Stop, Think and Take Action. These sources would never call you regarding this information, how would they have known your phone number, and if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Never visit a website as instructed over the phone, and don’t let them access your computer.

Email phishing themes can include invoices, past due messages and even an announcement of a tragic event, such as the death of a loved one.

Ransomware is when the files on your PC or mobile device are encrypted and held for ransom. Avoid ransomware by being proactive; patch all software on your devices as updates are available, remain on current operating systems and practice safe web browsing and email processing habits.

Cybercriminals Are in Love With COVID-19

Cybercriminals know that the best time to turn a phish into a catch is when life gets overwhelming. They see COVID-19 as a gold mine. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the volume of fraudulent emails and text messages spiked by more than 667% (according to security firm Barracuda Networks). And as long as COVID sticks around, scammers will try to use it to their advantage.

Stay informed. You can stay current with the latest info on COVID-19 without getting scammed, you just need to be careful. Scammers have created hundreds of thousands of fake COVID-19 phishing web sites. Make sure you visit only trusted websites such as the Center for Disease Control’s official site or your local county or state health department web sites.

If you’re unsure about a web site, you can always use this Google tool to see if it’s safe:

Be a little skeptical. Cybercriminals try to grab our attention with COVID-19-related phishing emails on subjects like these:

  • Contact tracing. “Someone who came in contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID-19. Officials recommend you self-isolate and get tested. More at”
  • Relief funds. “The FCC Financial Care Center is offering you $30,000 in COVID-19 relief. Claim at”
  • Cures. “Amazing COVID cure discovered. There’s hope! Sign-up for the trial here:” Always be wary of emails and offers that are too good to be true.

Stay cybersafe. Look for the warning signs of someone trying to manipulate you. Dead giveaways include fake URLs, pressuring you to act immediately, urging you to click a hyperlink, or asking you to provide personal or financial information. Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money.

Prevention Steps

Taking preventive steps will help to protect your personal devices and information.

  • Patch your PC and mobile device Operating Systems
  • Patch all software on your PC and remain on current versions
  • Utilize anti-virus and make sure it is current
  • Practice safe web browsing habits
  • Create backups of sensitive information in order to avoid loss due to Ransomware!
  • Use unique passwords on various websites
    • Unique: use different passwords between systems. A compromise of one system doesn’t place access to another at risk
    • Strong: avoid dictionary words which are easily guessed or cracked. "Fall2020" is a very weak password!
    • Long: long passwords are harder to guess and crack

Having layers of protection helps to protect your systems. Stop, Think and then consider your actions.

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month Resources

During National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), the following tip sheets and resources are invaluable tools for reducing cybersecurity risks and protecting yourself online.

Cyber Safety and Education:

We often allow children to utilize our devices. This may place the devices at risk. The Internet can be a dangerous place for children. Learn about how to protect and talk to your children about the dangers of the internet.

Safe and Secure Online - Seniors Edition empowers senior citizens to incorporate safe online habits into their lives so they may enjoy the internet safely while connecting with family and friends in the new digital age.

Additional Resources