From email and banking to social media and mobile apps, the average person has a long list of passwords. While keeping track of numerous account logins can be tedious, there could be serious implications if a cybercriminal gains access to your email, financial information, social security number, or even your medical records. Passwords are the most common means of authentication online, and that is why it is critical to use strong passwords and keep them confidential.
Here are some the tips below from the Stop.Think.Connect. ™ campaign to help make your passwords stronger and help keep them secure:
- Don't use words that can be found in any dictionary of any language and use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Don't use passwords that are based on personal information or that can be easily accessed or guessed including birthdays, names of pets, or favorite movies and books that can be found by a quick search on social networking sites.
- Use passphrases like "Thispasswdis4myemail!" to help you remember complex passwords.
- Write down your passwords and store them in a secure place away from your computer if necessary. For example, passwords locked in your desk drawer are secure, but passwords on a sticky note stuck to the monitor are not.
- Use different passwords for different accounts and change them regularly.
- Make sure account login pages use encryption including a URL that begins with "https:" instead of "http:". Look for the padlock icon in the browser bar, too. If the padlock icon appears on the webpage, but not in the browser bar, it might just be a graphic that a cybercriminal embedded to trick you into feeling secure.
Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and we are all called on to ACT or Achieve Cybersecurity Together. We know it only takes a single infected computer to potentially infect thousands and perhaps millions of others. But at the end of the day, cybersecurity is ultimately about people. The most impressive and sophisticated technology is worthless if it’s not operated and maintained by informed and conscientious users.
If each of us commits to staying informed of cybersecurity risks and takes a few simple steps, we can all make a big difference to stay safe online.
Posted by the Office of International Affairs
Today, DHS Assistant Secretary for International Affairs Alan Bersin and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Thomas Winkowski met with Turkish Ministry of Customs and Trade Under Secretary Ziya Altunyaldiz, to discuss efforts to secure and facilitate legitimate trade and travel. This meeting was a follow up to Secretary Janet Napolitano’s trip to Turkey in October 2012.
During the meeting, the DHS and Turkish representatives discussed how customs agencies can partner with industry, through programs such as the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, to identify high risk cargo early in the shipment process and share best practices for training customs officers. DHS and the Turkish Ministry of Customs and Trade are working together to translate these discussions into new forms of direct operational cooperation in order to improve the security and resilience of the global supply chain.
Last fall, Secretary Napolitano traveled to Ankara where she met with Minister Yazici in addition to Deputy Prime Minister Atalay, Maritime, and Communications Minister Yidirim, and Interior Minister Sahin to discuss the Department’s collaboration with international partners on enhancing information sharing and combating transnational crime, while strengthening economic ties.
Public Service Recognition Week is a time for us to recognize the contributions of federal, state, and local government employees who serve in communities all across the nation, on the frontlines and around the world. We are thankful for their tireless work and sacrifice.
Today, I joined other senior Administration officials at the Partnership for Public Service Town Hall where we paid tribute to the contributions of all who serve
s, and renewed our own pledge to service. Together with Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe, and General Services Administration Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini, we participated in a dynamic dialogue on the value of government service.
During the event, I had the opportunity to underscore the importance of public service to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As we mark DHS’ tenth anniversary this year, we continue to focus on service, both in the missions we carry out and the services we provide to millions of Americans every day. From the One-DHS approach to disaster preparedness, response and recovery, to our unprecedented efforts to secure our land, air and sea borders, to our efforts in cybersecurity and devotion to the safety of the public at large, DHS’ work could not be possible without the commitment and sacrifice of the dedicated employees that I am proud to serve alongside. Please join me in honoring and recognizing their work to make our nation safer, more secure and more resilient.
Secretary Napolitano participates in the third annual Public Service Town Hall discussion. This Town Hall is part of Public Service Recognition Week, a weeklong celebration of the service and contributions that public servants make to our country every day.
If you are unable to view this video, you can watch here.
Posted by Bruce McConnell, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity
To facilitate our on-going conversation about strengthening the security and resilience of our Nation’s critical infrastructure, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is creating a Collaboration Community on IdeaScale that will allow you to share your thoughts.
Critical infrastructure is the backbone of our country’s national and economic security. It includes power plants, chemical facilities, communications networks, bridges, highways, and stadiums, as well as the federal buildings where millions of Americans work and visit each day. DHS coordinates the national protection, prevention, mitigation, and recovery from cyber incidents and works regularly with business owners and operators to take steps to strengthen their facilities and communities.
Because the vast majority of U.S. critical infrastructure is owned and operated by private companies, reducing the risk to these vital systems requires a strong partnership between government and industry. DHS has been leading the Integrated Task Force (ITF) made up of representatives from various levels of government and the private sector to implement the policies that will enhance our nation’s ability to protect our critical infrastructure.
DHS collaborates with the public and private sector every day to identify, prevent, mitigate and respond to attempted disruptions to the Nation’s critical cyber and communications networks. On April 19, we hosted a workshop with our public and private sector partners to discuss ways to encourage participation in, and the adoption of, the voluntary cybersecurity framework developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This workshop was the first in a series of outreach efforts as we work to implement EO 13636.
In support of our efforts to implement Presidential Policy Directive 21on Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience, we encourage you to submit comments and ideas using the IdeaScale public dialogue tool – a simple, web-based forum —so that we can build a stronger foundation for securing and protecting our nation’s critical infrastructure. For more information about the Department’s efforts to strengthen and secure the Nation’s critical infrastructure, please visit here.
The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center’s (FLETC) mission is to “train those who protect our homeland.” To carry out this mission, the FLETC serves as an interagency law enforcement training organization for 91 federal agencies or partner organizations. Throughout 2013, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is commemorating its tenth anniversary by recognizing key initiatives and employees who have contributed to successes while considering new and innovate ways to achieve its mission. In recognition of this important milestone, leaders from across the Department will be discussing the work they’ve done over the previous decade as well as their current efforts and plans for the future.
Building on these engagements, I recently answered questions about the past, present and future of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. The men and women of FLETC look forward to continuing our service and mission to provide fast, flexible and focused training to secure and protect America.
How did FLETC operate before the creation of DHS?
Since it was established in 1970, the FLETC has provided basic and advanced training to federal, state, local, rural, tribal, territorial, and international law enforcement personnel. With decades of experience meeting the training needs of multiple law enforcement communities, the FLETC was poised to embrace a broadened mission when it formally transferred from the Treasury Department to the Department of Homeland Security in 2003. Over the past forty years, approximately 1,000,000 law enforcement officers and agents have been trained at FLETC. During FY 2012, almost 70,000 students received FLETC training.
How has FLETC changed since its incorporation into the Department?
The transition to DHS prompted a refocusing of many FLETC training programs as well as the creation of new ones to meet emerging needs, such as anti/counter-terrorism, flying armed, intelligence awareness and critical infrastructure protection. The rapid advancement of technology and the borderless nature of many crimes highlighted a need for enhanced training in technical areas such as computer forensics, cyber investigations, and financial fraud. The recognition that terrorism can occur anywhere at any time led to a rural training initiative that ensures officers working in the most remote areas have access to critical training.
As the law enforcement landscape becomes increasingly complex, we constantly seek emerging training needs in areas such as human trafficking, drug-endangered children, and countering violent extremism. The importance of proactively identifying new technologies to enhance training prompted us to integrate advanced simulators into firearms, driver, maritime, and interview training.
What have been some milestones for the FLETC, and how do you see it evolving in the next 10 years?
We recognize the critical role state-of-the-art facilities play in providing realistic training. In 2004, the FLETC began constructing a Counter Terrorism Operational Training Facility designed to provide an immersive environment to address evolving threats. Most recently, we opened an Intermodal Training Facility where frontline law enforcement personnel experience scenario-based training to better deter and combat threats across major transportation modes; and soon will open a 35+ acre complex named Danis City, an urban/suburban training facility featuring realistic venues and a high-tech forensics lab.
These and other innovations are needed to connect with new generations of students, who only know a world where technology is omnipresent. The FLETC looks very different than it did only 10 years ago, as we aim to ensure our students are more prepared than ever before.
Last week, Secretary Napolitano met with Mexican Secretary of the Interior Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, furthering the collaboration between the United States and Mexico on our shared responsibility for issues related to migration, border security, and facilitating legitimate travel and trade.
“The threats we face increasingly cross international boundaries, and strong international partnerships are critical to the region’s security,” said Secretary Napolitano. “We are committed to working with our partners in Mexico to facilitate legitimate trade and travel while securing and managing our borders.”
During their meeting, Secretaries Napolitano and Osorio Chong discussed the ongoing partnership and cooperation between the United States and Mexico to ensure a safe and secure border region, which is critical to both nations’ economic competitiveness and national security.
Secretaries Napolitano and Osorio Chong also signed several arrangements to enhance law enforcement collaboration along our shared border, as well as to identify and share best practices related to emergency management.
Additionally, Secretaries Napolitano and Osorio Chong highlighted the ongoing bilateral commitment to ensuring effective enforcement of both nations' immigration laws, specifically thorough institutionalization of the Interior Repatriation Initiative (IRI). This initiative, announced as a pilot program in October 2012, provides humane, safe and orderly repatriation of Mexican nationals to the interior of Mexico and ultimately to their hometowns, instead of returning them to towns on the U.S.-Mexico border.Last week, Secretaries Napolitano also met with Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Jose Antonio Meade Kuribreña to discuss the shared commitment of both nations to ensuring the region's security, including collaborating on the enforcement of both nations’ immigration laws, enhancing information sharing, developing programs and initiatives to facilitate legitimate travel and trade, and continuing efforts to ensure a more safe, secure and resilient global supply chain.
The outpouring of support and generosity of the American public in the aftermath of last Monday’s explosions in Boston speaks to both our compassion and resilience as a country. But unfortunately, as we’ve seen previously, high profile news stories and tragedies can also lead to a variety of Internet scams and online risks.
Newly created websites and twitter accounts may try to take advantage of those looking to contribute to fundraising efforts. Others could target individuals interested in simply learning more details about the incident. For example, emails that appear as if they have been sent from a legitimate news or charitable organization may in fact be phishing attempts.
Here are a few ways you can protect yourself from online scams and phishing techniques:
- Only donate money to known, credible fundraising charities.
- Exercise caution when clicking on email links or interacting with social media accounts that claim to represent the best interests of those involved in this incident.
- When searching for updates on the story, it is safest to go directly to trusted news sources rather than conducting general search engine queries.
If you suspect you have received a phishing email, please send it to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) at email@example.com.
For more information on protecting yourself and your information online, visit www.dhs.gov/StopThinkConnect.
Cyberspace is woven into the fabric of our daily lives. According to recent estimates, this global network of networks encompasses more than two billion people with at least 12 billion computers and devices, including global positioning systems, mobile phones, satellites, data routers, ordinary desktop computers, and industrial control computers that run power plants, water systems, and more. While this increased connectivity has led to significant transformations and advances across our country – and around the world – it also has increased the importance and complexity of our shared risk.
The Internet is truly a public place and once you post something online, it can be accessed by anyone, and you may have no control over what they might do with that information. To help you stay safe online, the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has the following tips for publishing information online:
- View the Internet as a novel, not a personal diary – Make sure you are comfortable with anyone seeing the information you post online. Expect that people you have never met will find your information; even if you are using privacy settings, write it with the expectation that it is available for public consumption.
- Be careful what you advertise –When deciding how much or what information to reveal online, realize that you are broadcasting it to the world. Supplying your email address may increase the amount of spam you receive. Providing details about your hobbies, your job, your family and friends, or your past may give strangers enough information to exploit.
- Realize that you can't take it back – Once you publish something online, it is available to other people and to search engines. Even if you try to change or remove a page, a status update, or picture, someone may have already saved a copy or a screenshot of the page. Some search engines "cache" copies of web pages; these cached copies may be available after a web page has been deleted or altered.
Before you publish something on the Internet, determine what value it provides and consider the implications of having the information available to the public.
Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, and all of us are called upon to “ACT” or Achieve Cybersecurity Together. For more information, please visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.
Throughout 2013, we are commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Department of Homeland Security. In recognition of this important milestone, leaders from across the Department and its component agencies will be discussing their beginnings, their present operations, and what’s to come.
I recently sat down to answer questions about the present and future of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in recognition of the Department of Homeland Security’s tenth anniversary. For ten years, USCIS has been securing America’s promise as a nation of immigrants and a beacon of hope and opportunity.
What is USCIS’s mission, and how was this mission fulfilled prior to DHS?
On March 1, 2003, with the creation of DHS, USCIS officially assumed responsibility for the delivery of U.S. immigration services and benefits. We benefit from a legacy of more than 100 years of federal immigration and naturalization administration.
Since 2003, the agency has naturalized almost 700,000 individuals each year, helped unite families and provide shelter to those in need of humanitarian relief, and introduced people from all over the world who contribute to our rich and diverse cultural and economic landscape. At the same time, the agency has guarded the integrity of our immigration system and helped safeguard our nation’s security.
What have been some important milestones for USCIS?
In the past ten years, USCIS’s workforce has enabled the agency to fulfill its core obligations while breaking new ground and achieving milestones. As USCIS enters its second decade, it has successfully implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and instituted the provisional waiver program to alleviate the hardship that immigrant families suffer in separation. Additionally, USCIS has mobilized its workforce to reach out to individuals in underserved communities, bringing the immigration system’s resources and opportunities to them. These people include victims of violence against women and the plight of human trafficking, among other crimes. USCIS has launched a campaign to educate vulnerable populations who could fall victim to immigration fraud schemes, while deterring the would-be wrongdoer and punishing the culpable. The agency launched E-Verify and its valuable Self-Check tool, and has overseen the program’s growth as a key component of the government-wide effort to ensure a lawful workforce and workplace.
How does USCIS operate today?
With offices in over 23 countries, USCIS uses its international footprint to expand its outreach to members of our nation’s Armed Forces and to naturalize those members wherever they may be deployed. Through the creation of the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate, USCIS has elevated and strengthened its profile as a critical stakeholder in the fight against terrorism and as guardian of the immigration system’s integrity. Through increased language access and a redesigned website also available in Spanish, USCIS communicates more effectively to a broader array of people.
What do you see as the future of USCIS?
The agency looks to the next ten years equipped with citizenship resources and guides for new Americans, a foundation of unprecedented transparency and engagement, and a new and expanding electronic filing system. USCIS is poised to reinvent itself as a leader of technological innovation in Government, carrying forward its proud service as administrator of our identity as a nation of immigrants and a beacon of hope and opportunity.