National Cyber Security Awareness Month Launches with a Call to Action for All Digital Citizens to STOP. THINK. CONNECT.

Staff Report

Friday, September 30th, 2016

Individuals and organizations around the world are marking the start of the 13th annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month, a widespread initiative co-founded and led annually in October by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. NCSAM was created to empower everyone online to be safer, more secure and better able to protect their personal information. Kicking off with events across Washington State on Oct. 4 and 5, NCSAM 2016 highlights the theme "Our Shared Responsibility," emphasizing the role each person plays in promoting a more trusted internet. A recent Raytheon survey of adults ages 18 to 26 reveals that young people are paying increased attention to their role in cybersecurity as well; 92 percent of U.S. respondents agree that keeping the internet safe and secure is a responsibility we all share, up 8 points from 84 percent in 2015.

The European Union Agency for Network and Information Security will launch European Cyber Security Awareness Month on Sept. 30 in Brussels, Belgium.

"As every one of us, our families and our communities become increasingly connected, it becomes even more critical to practice good cybersecurity habits," said Michael Kaiser, NCSA's executive director. "Each October is the commencement of a new effort to help every digital citizen and business across the globe learn how to take simple security precautions to protect themselves and their personal information and share the responsibility of protecting others online."

NCSAM 2016 comes on the heels of the announcement of Lock Down Your Login, a STOP. THINK. CONNECT. initiative led by the White House and the National Cyber Security Alliance and developed by a coalition of industry leaders and like-minded organizations working in collaboration with government who understand the importance of cybersecurity awareness and education. The campaign was built upon a broad, coordinated effort to increase consumer awareness of our individual and collective roles in cybersecurity. In February 2016, President Obama issued the Cybersecurity National Action Plan, part of which called upon NCSA to develop a campaign under STOP. THINK. CONNECT. to encourage Americans to move beyond just the password to leverage multiple factors of authentication when logging in to online accounts. Usernames and passwords are not enough to secure online accounts, and Lock Down Your Login aims to promote the rapid adoption of strong authentication and secure login tools and technologies that make it easier and more convenient for everyone to use the internet with greater peace of mind. The Lock Down Your Login campaign represents how the public and private sectors can work together in collaboration with the shared goal of making the internet safer, more secure and more trusted. Visit to learn more.

"A recent NCSA/Microsoft survey of 13- to 17-year-old teens and parents of 13- to 17-year-olds revealed a strong interest in securing personal information – both parents and teens said that preventing identity theft is the top online safety topic they would like to learn more about," said Kaiser. "The Lock Down Your Login campaign comes at a great time, as NCSAM launches, and highlights a simple call to action that will help internet users reduce their risk of identity theft by adding extra protection to the key apps, accounts and websites they use."

It's easy to get involved and support NCSAM. Individuals, companies and organizations of all sizes are encouraged to become Champions. Currently there are more than 775 NCSAM Champions (535 organizations and 240 individuals) – corporations, governments and individuals worldwide who will play an active role in sharing important cybersecurity messages at home, in their local communities, and at work. Learn how to become a Champion here.

NCSAM 2016 is also the sixth anniversary of STOP. THINK. CONNECT., the global online safety awareness and education campaign led by NCSA and the Anti-Phishing Working Group and with federal engagement led by DHS.  STOP. THINK. CONNECT. is based on simple, actionable advice that anyone can follow to be safer online. The campaign has grown substantially since its inception, with more than 460 small and large businesses, nonprofits, educational institutions and other organizations registered as STOP. THINK. CONNECT. partners, resources available in five languages and active partnerships around the world. View a list of STOP. THINK. CONNECT. partners and sign up to join the campaign here.

"Every year for the last 12 years we have seen increasing support for and engagement in NCSAM," said Kaiser. "We count on small and large businesses, schools, nonprofits and other organizations to get involved and help educate the people they reach and serve about being safer online."

NCSA recommends following these STOP. THINK. CONNECT. tips throughout October – and year-round – to help yourself and those around you be more #CyberAware:

  • Lock Down Your Login: Fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media.

  • Keep a clean machine: Keep all software on internet-connected devices – including PCs, smartphones and tablets – up to date to reduce risk of infection from malware.

  • Personal information is like money. Value it. Protect it.: Information about you, such as purchase history or location, has value – just like money. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and how it's collected by apps and websites.

  • When in doubt, throw it out: Cybercriminals often use links in email, social posts and texts to try to steal your personal information. Even if you know the source, if something looks suspicious, delete it.

  • Share with care: Think before posting about yourself and others online. Consider what a post reveals, who might see it and how it could be perceived now and in the future.

  • Own your online presence: Set the privacy and security settings on websites and apps to your comfort level for information sharing. It's OK to limit how and with whom you share information.