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Protect your digital life in October

When: October

What: Americans’ lives are increasingly becoming tied to tech gadgets and computers. These devices store not only precious photos and videos of family and friends, but also financial and personal data. While keeping this information at our fingertips is convenient, it puts users at risk if their data is stolen. During October, help Americans keep their computers, smartphones and other tech devices secure during National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

Background: National Cyber Security Awareness Month was started in 2003 by the National Cyber Security Alliance in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security. The month is aimed at both businesses and consumers, and emphasizes how vital it is for all Americans to keep their private information safe. As the average American’s online presence has grown, the month has focused increasingly on protecting online data and preventing identity theft.

Story Pitch: Many companies and organizations in the tech and data protection fields can promote their products and services during the month. Manufacturers of devices including computers, tablets and smartphones will want to showcase their data protection plans, as well as explain what makes some devices vulnerable. Makers of software that can manage passwords or make Web browsing more secure should also promote during the month and educate users on how to navigate the Internet more safely. Financial groups, such as banks and credit card companies, may highlight the security safeguards their websites and mobile applications have in place. Additionally, they have the opportunity to communicate with their customers and address what steps should be taken in the event of an identity theft. Online retailers can especially be targeted for data breaches. They may discuss safe practices for shopping online, as well as how credit card and customer information is stored and processed.

Story Hook: Approximately 9 million Americans are victims of identity theft each year. Not all identities are stolen through the Internet, but clever thieves can use online information, such as a Facebook profile or personal website, to guess passwords or get through customer service lines to change contact information and commit fraud in someone else’s name. How can consumers monitor where and how their online information is displayed, and how can they check for changes in their accounts? How do the police handle identity theft? Consider the following as you make your pitch:

  • How can users be sure their vital information is being protected when they log on to websites or shop online? How can they minimize any risk?
  • Cyber security breaches are becoming more complex as hackers and thieves look for ways to outsmart security experts. How can businesses and consumers stay on top of threats?
  • What should users watch out for or avoid when using public and free Wi-Fi services?
  • What are the best ways to backup and store important data, such as family photos? Is it important to keep backups in different formats or storage sites?
  • Who sets standards for cyber security?

Tips: An expert in cyber security is a great contact to talk about the ways thieves are stealing and using data, and how consumers and businesses should prevent theft and fraud. Someone whose information was stolen online and used nefariously is also a good person to speak to on the importance of protecting oneself online, as well as how to keep up with latest tech trends while remaining cautious.

Resources:

Cybersecurity – Department of Homeland Security
(202) 282-8000
www.dhs.gov/cybersecurity

Information Systems Security Association
www.issa.org

OnGuard Online
onguardonline(at)ftc.gov
www.onguardonline.gov

 Stay Safe Online
www.staysafeonline.org

 –Researched, compiled & written by Kristina Elliott
Event Dates  from CHASE’S Calendar of Events

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