October 14, 2009
09-164

Kate Elliot
Communications Specialist

Cyber Security Awareness Month

VALDOSTA -- The University System of Georgia Office of Information Security is coordinating a system-wide security awareness program in observance of National Cyber Security Awareness Month in October.

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), an information technology trade group, launched the awareness month in 2004 to improve preparedness and better alert computer users to potential cyber threats. Since then, all major software and Internet vendors have signed onto the program, at www.staysafeonline.info, to support events and provide resources that help raise the national awareness.

The University System of Georgia signed on in 2009 to organize events and resources the support its central theme of "building a culture of awareness and preparedness.” The USG Office of Information Security Web site, www.usg.edu/infosec/ncsa/, offers resources about cyber security, links to training videos and information about Webinars and other sessions. Libraries throughout the System will also display information and hold a variety of sessions to inform students and employees about cyber threats and how to mitigate them.

For more information about cyber security, go to the NCSA main page at www.staysafeonline.info

Find out more about USG programs and resources at www.usg.edu/infosec/ncsa/


NCSA’s Top Tips to Keep you Safe Online

Don’t Take the Bait

Don't open unsolicited or unknown e-mail messages; don't open attachments from people you don't know or don't expect; and never reply to or click on links in e-mail or pop-ups that ask for personal information. Legitimate companies don't ask for this information via e-mail.

Forward spam that is phishing for information to spam@uce.gov and to the company, bank or organization impersonated in the phishing email.

Updates Improve Performance

Most software developers release routine software updates that fix known problems, improve performance and provide new functions. In general, it’s up to the user to decide if and when software should be updated or upgraded to a new release. Try to keep all software current, but your web browser and operating system should always be set to automatically update (if the option is available).

Back up Important Files

A recent NSCA/Symantec study found that more than 68 percent of Americans store more the 25 percent of their photos digitally. For most people, the loss of that information could be devastating. Viruses and other cyber attacks as well as natural disasters can render computers useless. Make copies of the data on your computer, store backup data on appropriate hardware and safely store your backed up files.

Be Password Savvy

Use passwords with at least eight characters, including numerals and symbols.

Avoid common words. Some hackers use programs that can try every word in the dictionary.

Do not use personal information, your login name or adjacent keys on the keyboard as passwords.

Change your passwords regularly -- at minimum, every 90 days.

Use a different password for each online account you access (or at least a variety of passwords with difficulty based on the value of the information).

One way to create a strong password is to think of a memorable phrase and use the first letter of each word as your password, converting some letters into numbers that resemble letters. For example, "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck" would become HmWc@wC.

Read more about these tips at www.staysafeonline.info/top-tips