Stop. Think. Connect: The Basic Steps to Online Safety and Security

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month and with it comes the National Cybersecurity Alliance’s mantra: Stop. Think. Connect.  Launched in 2010, STC partners with hundreds of organizations around the world as a global initiative to bolster online safety training and cybersecurity education.  The program offers a broad set of guiding principles which are intended to promote a safe, more secure digital experience for individuals, families and businesses on the web.  STC refers to this effort as protecting one’s “digital life” while challenging the public at-large not to be too quick to click on any link.

With support from the highest echelons of the U.S. government, STC provides useful advice that centers on online safety education with particular emphasis given to the protection of children, the importance of privacy concerns, and guarding against threats from malicious software.

Given the public’s propensity to a click-first, think-second online approach, STC focuses their advice on six core areas, which counteracts the instinct to trust every online data source encountered.  These core areas include:

  • Keep a Clean Machine. STC points internet users to the necessity of keeping their software current and updated to their latest operating versions, as well as the utilization of commercially sound end-point and perimeter based cybersecurity protocols and protection.
  • Protect Your Personal Information. Personally Identifiable Information or PII has become a buzzword on the cybersecurity news front. However, the logical sheltering of personal information remains the most ignored facet within the field of data breach prevention. STC recommends steps that have been sounded many times over such as, robust passwords unique to each website and the implantation of two-step authentication.
  • Connect with Care. This point corresponds with inclination many web users unwittingly live by, which is being too quick to click. STC recommends profound care when clicking on links that may be suspicious, opening emails that raise red flags, and connecting to public Wi-Fi networks that are unsecured.
  • Be Web Wise. This sage advice directs those browsing the internet to use diligence when submitting information through online sources, communicating via web portals, and ensuring that all of your data is properly backed up.
  • Be a Good Online Citizen. Highlighting the Golden Rule, STC encourages a common sense approach to online activities by being cognizant of how the action of one person can be detrimental to an entire community. They extend this point further by advising entities to report cybercrime and breaches to appropriate law enforcement agency.
  • Own Your Online Presence. Personal information, like money, is data that should be closely safeguarded, according to this STC guideline. Internet users should respond by taking great care prior to sharing information through email and social media posts.

Keeping the web a safer place for everyone is the goal of Stop. Think. Connect. and the National Cybersecurity Alliance.  This is why October has been designated as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and presents a great time to reassess everyone’s online safety practices.