October of 2013 marks the tenth anniversary of National Cyber Security Month, and with that in mind I'd like to reflect upon the important impact that technology has on our personal, social and professional lives, and how it can directly and indirectly affect our sense of security, our personal safety, and our sense of wellbeing every day. I'm not sure that ten years ago we could have predicted how intertwined in our daily lives technology would become.
We have become reliant upon the Internet, computers, and our mobile devices for so many functions in our lives: for communication in our private and work lives; for entertainment, banking, shopping, and financial management; for building and maintaining our social networks; and as a source for information about the world around us. In the fast-paced, hurried world we live in, it is often hard to remember to slow down and think before we click. Technology is such an integral part of our daily lives that we take for granted its convenience, availability and reliability. It is very easy to forget the risks that technology can pose.
As you go about your everyday business in cyberspace, keep in mind that every scam that exists in the 'real world' also exists in the cyber world. If it seems too good to be true, it most likely is. Don't provide your financial or personal identifying information to anyone who asks it of you. Be aware that an advertisement about an easy business opportunity that will allow you to make quick money is likely a scam, and that someone arranging to meet you to purchase an item you have listed for sale may be setting you up for an armed robbery. If you have doubts, your doubts are likely correct. If you feel you need a second opinion about whether a posting is legitimate, please feel free to call the police ahead of time.
Be wary of clicking on links and opening attachments, as this may open you to the risk of malware, whether you're doing so on a computer or mobile device. Only open links and attachments from trustworthy sources. Not only can careless clicking expose you to malware it can cause significant exposure to workplace networks as well. Taking a few extra seconds to think before you click can save time, money, and frustration, and will not only protect you, but others around you as well.
As we adjust to the ever-changing landscape of our cyber world, it is important that we teach our kids to use technology safely and responsibly, and in reasonable doses. Technology can have a very positive influence on kids, allowing them to access a broad range of beneficial information and ideas. Unfortunately, it can also unwittingly become a pathway for negative influences including violent content, pornography, bullying, and even sexual predators. Remember that whether you are an adult or a child, excessive screen time can be detrimental to interpersonal relationships. I encourage you to have open conversations with your kids about both the positive and negative aspects of technology. You may find that you learn a lot from them about the practical aspects of technology, which has become so central to all of our lives.
If all of us do our part to become more informed about our online activities, together we can make a difference in our personal and our family's cyber safety and security, but in our nation's cyber security as well.
For more information on National Cyber Security Awareness Month, please see http://www.dhs.gov/national-cyber-security-awareness-month.