Michael Kaiser
Executive Director, National Cyber Security Alliance

Every October for the past ten years, we have asked Internet users to be a little more aware of their online behaviors, and to understand their own role in making the Internet a safer place. This October, we are urging everyone to go a step further, by taking concrete action to protect themselves, their families and the Internet itself.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, when we focus on a unifying theme of “Our Shared Responsibility,” to recognize the part we all play in being safer online and making the Internet more secure for everyone.

When last we polled Americans and small businesses on their attitudes about security, 90 percent said that a safe and secure Internet is vital to our nation’s economic security, and nearly 60 percent said their jobs depended on it and 73 percent of small businesses told us that a safe and trusted Internet is critical or somewhat critical to their business.

But unfortunately our actions haven’t always reflected our awareness of the importance of Internet security. Our newest poll shows that a large percentage of Americans still aren’t taking some of the simplest steps available to make themselves — and the Internet itself — safer.

Ninety percent say that a safe and secure Internet is vital to our nation’s economic security, and nearly 60 percent said their jobs depended on it.

Preventing digital threats

Too many of us still use only one or two passwords across all of our online accounts, and far too many of us keep the same passwords for months on end, rather than making regular changes. Many of us still don’t use a password or pin to protect our mobile devices. Maintaining long, strong, and unique passwords is just one example of a simple, non-technical practice that can have a huge impact on Internet safety.

For all of the media focus on distant cyber attacks, mysterious hackers and scary-sounding computer viruses, the simple truth remains that each of us possesses great power to prevent the vast majority of online threats from harming us. And if we all were to exercise that power, the global effect on Internet security would be profoundly positive.

Tapping into that power is as simple as three words: STOP. THINK. CONNECT.

Stop.  Make sure you have taken safety and security precautions, such as running up to date software.

Think. About the potential consequences of your actions and behaviors.

Connect. With more confidence knowing that you’ve taken steps to protect yourself and your family and enjoy the Internet.

The power is in your hands. This October, I urge you to use it.