University of Wisconsin–Madison
Own, Secure, Protect IT. National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. October 2019. #BeCyberSmart

The importance of Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Welcome to Fall and happy Cybersecurity Awareness Month! That’s right, just like National Ice Cream Month in July, National Pet Month in May, National Honey Month in September, or any other month-long celebration, we are taking the time to focus on a topic that we want to celebrate and raise awareness for – Cybersecurity!

NCSAM 2019

October is a time to celebrate security people, processes, teams, and initiatives. It’s also a time to reflect on some of those fundamental pieces of information protection and cybersecurity. 

This year, our guiding theme is “Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.” This theme gives us the opportunity to focus on key areas like citizen privacy, consumer devices, and e-commerce security.

Own IT

Understanding your digital profile is important. We live in a world where just about any device can connect to the Internet. Our digital world extends to our homes, school, work, leisure time, and yes, even when we go out to dinner or attend Little League baseball games. The benefits of the constant connection to the world provides limitless opportunities for sharing information, doing new things, and creating new prospects for great things to happen. 

Of course, I wouldn’t be the CISO if I didn’t highlight the potential cybersecurity threats aimed at your most important personal information. I also believe you need to understand the devices and applications you use every day to help keep you and your information safe and secure.

Secure IT

Knowing how to secure your digital profile is also important. Cybercriminals are very good at getting personal information from unsuspecting victims, and the methods they use are getting more sophisticated as technology evolves. It is ultimately your responsibility to protect the equipment and software you use against cyber threats by learning about their available security features.

At UW–Madison we are working hard to implement additional layers of security for you and your devices. This past spring, we rolled out Multi-Factor Authentication from Duo to staff, and this fall, we are bringing this important security tool to students. UW–Madison invests in other security tools as well, including LastPass. This password manager gives you the ability to secure your multiple online accounts with unique passwords. We do this to better protect your personal information.

Protect IT

Finally, maintaining your digital profile cannot be overemphasized. Every click, share, send, and post you make creates a digital trail that can be exploited by cybercriminals. You have the power to stop information thieves and protect yourself from becoming a cybercrime victim. The Office of Cybersecurity can help you understand, secure, and maintain your digital profile. This includes being familiar with and routinely checking privacy settings on the technology and applications you use. Simple steps taken on a frequent basis will help protect your privacy and limit cybercrimes.

It’s not all about you

Living in a digital world at school or at work requires that we protect the university’s information wherever it lives, plays, rests, or is used for important work. Be aware of the data you have and the requirements for protecting important UW–Madison information, including student records, personnel information, financial data, and unpublished research materials.

Higher education is not immune to cybercrime. Protecting your personal and our collective intellectual capital from those who want to steal and make money from it is a real threat in today’s digital universe. Awareness of that threat is so important during this year’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

What’s on tap for NCSAM this October?

The Office of Cybersecurity is sponsoring and providing six events which support the subjects of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). 

Last week, we handed out informational materials and answered questions at the School of Medicine and Public Health. We also held a Credential Management Panel and a Data Privacy Panel at Union South. On the 29th, we will be participating in the Researcher Regulatory Fair at Union South’s Varsity Hall. We will be hosting a panel on the 30th that will discuss “Practical Cybersecurity.” The Wisconsin Cyber Threat Alliance (WICTRA) will also be hosting the Cyber Training Lab at this event. On the 31st, we will host a brown bag session on how to implement endpoint security. 

#BeCyberSmart and #CyberAware

These are the hashtags we are using for events and postings this month. Use them as you spread the news via social media. Ask us how you can celebrate National Cybersecurity Awareness Month; focus on protecting your personal information and UW–Madison data; and be a good cyber citizen!

As always, I appreciate your feedback.  Simple rules – be nice, be fair, and be honest.