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Digital New Year's cyber resolutions to keep everyone safer and more secure online

Michael Kaiser, NCSA

Washington, DC, December 22 - As many Americans get ready to ring in the New Year, they are also setting goals for health, happiness and professional success in 2016. With the average adult spending more than 11 hours each day connected to electronic media – watching TV, listening to the radio or using smartphones and other connected devices – setting resolutions to safeguard our digital lives is an important and necessary step in our shared responsibility to protect the Internet.[1]

With only 8 percent of people successful in keeping their resolutions last year,[2] the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), the nation's leading nonprofit, public-private partnership promoting the safe and secure use of the Internet and digital privacy, has simple yet impactful suggestions for you, the connected community and families. NCSA's recommendations are easy to implement, require little effort throughout the year and deliver an extraordinary benefit: a safer, more secure and trusted Internet.

"We live in a global, always-connected digital age, and everyone needs to adopt good habits to lead a safer, more secure online life," said Michael Kaiser, NCSA's executive director. "As we think about how to better protect our virtual lives, we've identified three reliable practices that will empower Internet users to reap the benefits of connectivity with greater confidence in 2016. If everyone joins in, we will all be safer and more secure online today and in years to come."

Jump-start the safety of your virtual life by vowing to make one ‒ or, better yet, all three ‒ of NCSA's top resolutions.

Digital Resolution for You (and Everyone You Know) 

Get Two Steps Ahead: Turn on Two-Step Authentication 

To thwart cybercriminals, anyone who is active online should make a commitment to get two steps ahead and turn on two-step authentication – also known as two-step verification or multi-factor authentication ‒ to make their accounts more secure. Many of the Internet's most popular email services, social networks and financial institutions offer this key security step free of charge, but you must opt in to turn it on. Visit stopthinkconnect.org/2stepsahead to learn more and view a list of the websites that offer two-step authentication. Activating this technology adds an additional layer of protection beyond a password to better protect the safety of your online identity and sensitive personal data. This resolution is a cinch: once you turn on the technology, you are almost done – just be sure to spread the word to family, friends and everyone you know.

Digital Resolution for Everyone 

Public WiFi is Not Protected: Get Savvy, Limit Exposure  

Just as there's no such thing as a free lunch – the same goes for free WiFi, often a playground for lurking cybercriminals eager to pounce on your personal data once you connect to an open network. Remember this digital health alert and make a resolution to get savvy about WiFi hotspots. Public wireless networks are not secure, which means that anyone could potentially see what you are doing if you use them on your connected device. Vow to limit what you do on public WiFi, and avoid logging in to key accounts like email and financial services. Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) or a personal/mobile hotspot for a more secure connection. We're all tempted to use free WiFi while shopping, traveling or out and about, but by limiting online activities on public connections, everyone can contribute to improving the public's digital health.

Digital Resolution for Families 

Keep A Cyber Safe Home: Assign Digital Chores 

A recent study conducted by ESET® and NCSA revealed that almost 70 percent of American households have between one and five devices at home connected to the Internet with 30 percent owning six or more. With this increased connectivity, there is a need for simple but necessary maintenance – where everyone in the household has a role to play. Just as families have daily tasks, like making the bed ‒ or weekly chores ‒ like mowing the lawn, all households should take responsibility to keep their connected families safe by incorporating ongoing digital maintenance into their household routines. From updating software to backing up valuable family photos and important documents to keeping up with new ways to stay safe online, check out the new Family Digital Chores Checklist at protect.eset.com/cyberparent to get your family started!

NCSA also recommends these quick and easy ways to make your digital life safer and more secure in 2016:

  • Keep a clean machine: Keep software up to date on all Internet-connected devices to reduce risk of infection and malware.
  • Use a better password: Improve your defenses on accounts by making passwords that you can remember, are hard to guess, preferably use numbers, capital and lowercase letters and symbols and are different for all accounts.
  • Passcode protect: Every device ‒ laptop, tablet or smartphone ‒ should be protected with a passcode or password to prevent access if lost or stolen.

Visit stopthinkconnect.org/tips-advice/general-tips-and-advice to learn more.

About The National Cyber Security Alliance  

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) is the nation's leading nonprofit, public-private partnership promoting cybersecurity and privacy education and awareness. NCSA works with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and NCSA's Board of Directors, which include representatives from ADP; AT&T; Bank of America; BlackBerry; Cisco; Comcast Corporation; ESET; Facebook; Google; Intel; Logical Operations; Microsoft; PayPal; PKWARE; RSA, the Security Division of EMC; Raytheon; Symantec; Verizon; and Visa. NCSA's core efforts include National Cyber Security Awareness Month (October), Data Privacy Day (January 28), and STOP. THINK. CONNECT., the global online safety awareness and education campaign led by NCSA and the Anti Phishing Working Group, with federal government leadership from DHS. For more information on NCSA, please visit staysafeonline.org/about-us/overview/.

[1] http://www.statista.com/chart/1971/electronic-media-use/  

[2] Statisticbrain.com 2015


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