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October is Cyber Safety Month
Often times, we may not realize that our actions online might put us, our families, and even our country at risk. Learning about the dangers online and taking action to protect ourselves is the first step in making the Internet a safer place for everyone. Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and we each have a role to play.
Cybersecurity involves protecting that infrastructure by preventing, detecting, and responding to cyber incidents. Unlike physical threats that prompt immediate action–like stop, drop, and roll in the event of a fire–cyber threats are often difficult to identify and comprehend. Among these dangers are viruses erasing entire systems, intruders breaking into systems and altering files, intruders using your computer or device to attack others, or intruders stealing confidential information. The spectrum of cyber risks is limitless; threats, some more serious and sophisticated than others, can have wide-ranging effects on the individual, community, organizational, and national level. These risks include:
- Organized cybercrime, state-sponsored hackers, and cyber espionage can pose national security risks to our country.
- Transportation, power, and other services may be disrupted by large scale cyber incidents. The extent of the disruption is highly uncertain as it will be determined by many unknown factors such as the target and size of the incident.
- Vulnerability to data breach and loss increases if an organization’s network is compromised. Information about a company, its employees, and its customers can be at risk.
- Individually-owned devices such as computers, tablets, mobile phones, and gaming systems that connect to the Internet are vulnerable to intrusion. Personal information may be at risk without proper security.
WHAT CAN I DO…
You can increase your chances of avoiding cyber risks by setting up the proper controls. The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your property before a cyber incident occurs.
- Only connect to the Internet over secure, password- protected networks.
- Do not click on links or pop-ups, open attachments, or respond to emails from strangers.
- Always enter a URL by hand instead of following links if you are unsure of the sender.
- Do not respond to online requests for Personally Identifiable Information (PII); most organizations – banks, universities, companies, etc. – do not ask for your personal information over the Internet.
- Limit who you are sharing information with by reviewing the privacy settings on your social media accounts.
- Trust your gut; if you think an offer is too good to be true, then it probably is.
- Password protect all devices that connect to the Internet and user accounts.
- Do not use the same password twice; choose a password that means something to you and you only; change your passwords on a regular basis.
- If you see something suspicious, report it to the proper authorities.
The extent, nature, and timing of cyber incidents are impossible to predict. There may or may not be any warning. Some cyber incidents take a long time (weeks, months or years) to be discovered and identified. Familiarize yourself with the types of threats and protective measures you can take by:
- Signing up for the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) mailing list to receive the latest cybersecurity information directly to your inbox. Written for home and business users, alerts provide timely information about current security issues and vulnerabilities. Sign up here.
- Becoming a Friend of the Department of Homeland Security’s Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign and receive a monthly newsletter with cybersecurity current events and tips. Sign up here.
The August 24, 2014 Napa Valley earthquake is a reminder that earthquakes happen without warning. With two major seismic zones here in the central U.S., we all need to be prepared to take quick actions to stay safe during an earthquake. The Great ShakeOut is a good way for schools, businesses, families and others to practice the life-saving ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On’ moves.
At 10:16 a.m. on Oct. 16, millions of people in 39 states, the District of Columbia and several countries around the globe are expected to participate in The Great ShakeOut. The drill is designed to raise awareness about earthquake risks and the ways people can stay safe when the ground starts shaking.
Illinois has participated in ShakeOut drills for the past four years. In October 2013, more than 523,000 Illinoisans took part in the nationwide earthquake drill. To date, more than 237,000 people in Illinois are registered for the October ShakeOut event.
Some of the most powerful earthquakes to ever occur in the U.S. happened a little more than 200 years ago in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which reaches into southern Illinois. That series of earthquakes lasted for several months and shaking was felt as far away as the East Coast.
Schools, businesses, government agencies, families and others can register to participate in the drill at www.shakeout.org/centralus. Registered participants will receive additional information about the drill and earthquake preparedness. While the international drill will take place on Oct. 16, individual drills can be conducted anytime within two weeks of that date.
The drill focuses on the “Drop, Cover and Hold On” protective actions people should take when an earthquake begins: “Drop” down to the floor, take “Cover” under a sturdy desk, table or other furniture, and “Hold On” to the furniture item and be prepared to move with it until the shaking stops.
Additional information about the earthquake risk in Illinois and steps to take before, during and after an earthquake is available at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.
Remember: If You See Something, Say Something…
RESOLVE TO BE READY: #PREPARED2014
This year’s Resolve to Be Ready campaign focuses on ‘Family Connection’ to reinforce the importance of parents including their children in preparedness conversations in advance of potential disasters. The Ready campaign makes and emergency preparedness resolution easy to keep by recommending families consider these three ideas when making a plan: who to call, where to meet, and what to pack.
The campaign includes age-appropriate tools and resources to introduce conversations about disaster preparedness to children on www.ready.gov/kids, including a downloadable family emergency plan, emergency kit checklists, and guidelines on how to make preparedness a year-round family activity. Additional templates are available on this website under the Preparedness tab. Check out the materials that you can use in your community to get families prepared in 2014.
Do you ‘LIKE’ us on Facebook? If not, you should check us out. For those of you who ‘LIKE’ us we’ve made some recent changes. LIKE us at ‘Will County Emergency Management Agency’ will provide you a great source of information before, during, and after an emergency.
In 2014 we welcome our new page ‘Will County Alerts’, we have moved our automated posts of severe weather advisories, watches, and warning from the National Weather Service for Will County to this page. Additionally other larger scale emergency information will begin to be posted on this page. LIKE us at ‘Will County Alerts’. Remember nothing replaces a NOAA Weather Radio; this is another tool for us to help provide emergency information to the public.