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Cybersecurity now more important than ever before

For many Wisconsinites, 2020 has been a groundbreaking year, for the use of technological connection to maintain daily life. Jobs, schools, societal well-being, economic prosperity and nation’s security, are dependent on the internet.

Under the overarching theme of “Do Your Part. BeCyberSmart,” the 17th annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), is focused on encouraging individuals and organizations to own their role in protecting their part of cyberspace.

This year’s campaign stresses personal accountability and the importance of taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity. Throughout October, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), will share tips and information for consumers, and businesses, related to the NCSAM weekly themes.

Week 1: If You Connect It, Protect It – The line between online and offline lives is indistinguishable. This network of connections creates opportunities and challenges, for individuals and organizations across the globe.

The first week of Cybersecurity Awareness Month will highlight the ways in which internet-connected devices have affected lives and will empower all users to take steps to reduce the risk of their devices being hacked.

Included in the awareness, are the following steps to ensure complete cyber security:

• Take an inventory of web-connected devices in the home, such as gaming devices, Smartwatches, thermostats, Smart TVs, routers and voice assistants (Google Home, Amazon Alexa, etc.), and of course, computers and phones.

• Once the family’s devices are accounted for, update the operating systems and antivirus software on the devices, in order to protect against recent viruses and to patch any holes that hackers can use to access systems.

• Check any accounts associated with the devices and verify that the information is up-to-date, and passwords and username are strong, and secure.

Additionally, consider using a two-factor authentication when available; make the password long, strong and complex; and select security questions where only one person in the household knows the answer.

Week 2: Securing Devices at Home and Work – Homes are more connected than ever; businesses are more dependent on the internet than ever. With more people now working from home, these two environments are colliding on a scale never seen, introducing a completely new set of potential security vulnerabilities. Week 2 of Cybersecurity Awareness Month will focus on the steps users and organizations can take to protect their internet-connected devices, for personal and professional use.

Week 3: Securing Internet-Connected Devices in Healthcare – The healthcare industry is increasingly relying upon internet-connected devices and solutions to improve patient care, organizational efficiency, speed of crisis response and much more. The emergence of telemedicine, digital health records, internet-connected medical devices, patient wellness apps and an increasing amount of third parties entering the health supply chain, has created many benefits, but has also exposed the industry to vulnerabilities that cyber criminals regularly attempt to exploit.

Week 4: The Future of Connected Devices – The final week of Cybersecurity Awareness Month will look at the future of connected devices. This week will look at how technological innovations, such as 5G, might impact consumers’ and business’ online experiences (faster speeds and data transmission, larger attack surface for hackers), as well as how people and infrastructure can adapt to the continuous evolution of con- nected devices moving forward. No matter what the future holds, every user needs to be empowered to do their part.