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Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign Blog

The Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign Blog contains the latest cybersecurity news and tips to help you and your family stay safe online.

Data Privacy Day 2016: Value Your Personal Information

February 3, 2016

Data Privacy Day is an international effort held annually on January 28 to create awareness about the importance of privacy and protecting personal information.

In today’s connected world, we’re sharing more personal information online than ever before. And it’s not only when we’re sitting at our computers: we use our mobile devices to shop, bank, conduct business, and connect with loved ones. These activities often require us to provide personal information such as our name, email address, credit card information, and other sensitive details online. But when this information falls into the wrong hands, it can be exploited and used to steal your identity and your money. As sharing personal information online becomes commonplace, it is increasingly critical to take steps to protect your personal data and privacy.

This entry was originally posted on the Blog @ DHS. Read the rest of the blog.  

Are Toys Putting Your Child at Risk of Identity Theft?

December 18, 2015

This holiday season, many parents will be buying new toys and gadgets for themselves and their children. Whether parents realize it or not, more and more toys are becoming connected to the Internet and storing sensitive data about children online – potentially exposing their information to hackers and other criminals. Beyond smart phones and laptops for older children, even Internet-connected toys for toddlers and young children can carry potential risks. Recent data breaches have put a spotlight on these vulnerabilities, making it increasingly important to understand the technology you and your children are using to avoid having sensitive information stolen.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, child identity theft happens when someone uses a minor’s personal information to commit fraud. A child's personal information, such as their Social Security number or date of birth, can be used by identity thieves to apply for government benefits, open bank and credit card accounts, or apply for a loan. This could ruin a child’s credit before they even turn 18 years old.

Parents already take steps to protect their children from physical harm, such as teaching them to look both ways before crossing a street. Protecting their personal information is just as important. The Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign encourages you to take the following steps to keep your family safe online during the holidays and throughout the year:

  • Keep your child’s personal information private. Avoid sharing their name, address, telephone number, or the name of their school when using the Internet, apps, or any online devices. Remember that there is no “delete” button online: once something is posted about your child on the Internet, it remains online forever. When sharing photos or information about your children, it’s important to think about how the posts might negatively affect them years from now when they’re older.  

  • Use parental controls. Take advantage of basic security settings available on the devices or apps your family uses. Limit who you’re sharing information with by reviewing the privacy settings on all accounts. Know the passwords for all of your children’s accounts, especially for social media.

  • Secure your connection. Before you share personal information on the Internet, ensure you have a secure connection. A secure websites has a lock icon in the address bar and a URL that begins with “https.”

  • Keep a clean machine. Just like your smartphone or laptop, keep any device that connects to the Internet free from viruses and malware. Update the software regularly on the device itself as well as the mobile applications you use to control the device.

If you suspect your child is a victim of the identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission has a resource to help.

For more tips on how to keep your family safe online, visit the Stop.Think.Connect. Toolkit to find resources including the Parents Tip Card, the Social Media Guide, and the Chatting with Kids about Being Online Booklet.

Holiday Travel Tips: How to Stay Cyber Safe While On-The-Go

December 15, 2015

Millions of Americans will travel near and far this holiday season to visit family, friends, and loved ones across the country. Many of these travelers will take their smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other smart devices with them. These devices offer a range of conveniences, including the ability to order gifts on-the-go, navigate unfamiliar places, and download boarding passes and other documents to travel in a paperless fashion. However, these added conveniences often come with potential threats and vulnerabilities.

Travel smart with your mobile devices by following these cybersecurity tips from DHS’s national cybersecurity awareness campaign, Stop.Think.Connect.:

  • Secure your devices. Never leave your mobile device unattended in a public place, and lock your device – with a strong passcode or password – when it is not in use.

  • Connect with caution. Although convenient during this busy holiday season, most public Wi-Fi networks are not secure. Do not conduct sensitive activities – like online shopping or banking – on public Wi-Fi. Disable automatic Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections on your devices.

  • Think before you click. Do not click on links or email attachments unless you know the source. Cyber criminals use holiday shopping and travel scams to gain access to your information or computer systems.

  • Consider what you post. Wait to post pictures from trips and events until you return home. Posting your location also indicates that your house is empty, making it a prime target for break-ins this time of year.

Learn more about mobile security with the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign’s Cybersecurity While Traveling tip card.

Buyers Beware: Three Steps to Avoid Cyber Monday Scams

November 25, 2015

Too full from turkey to go shopping on Black Friday? Cyber Monday allows shoppers to avoid the crowds and take advantage of great deals online from the convenience of their computer or mobile device. According to the National Retail Federation, nearly half of all holiday shopping will be done online this year. But online shoppers will find more than just big sales and deep discounts: they’ll also see an increase in cybercrime as online criminals try to get a share of the more than $630 billion expected to be spent during the holiday season.

This entry was originally posted on the Blog @ DHS. Read the rest of the blog.

Cyber Professionals Wanted: The Need for a Strong Cyber Workforce

October 30, 2015

Cyber attacks are a major threat to the United States’ national security: our networks are facing an unprecedented level of attacks from individual hackers, organized criminals, and nation state actors. To combat this rising threat, our nation needs a strong workforce of cybersecurity professionals to secure and protect our nation’s networks.

Throughout National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is bringing attention to our nation’s critical need for cyber professionals. Government, academia, and industry must all work together on this endeavor, prioritizing recruiting, training, and employing cybersecurity professionals. Below are a few examples of how DHS is working towards this goal:

  • CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service Program: Provides scholarships for college students in cyber-related fields, in exchange for a commitment to for the government in a cybersecurity role.
  • National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS): A “one stop shop for cybersecurity careers and studies” which includes a training catalog of cybersecurity courses and promotes cyber education.
  • The National Cybersecurity Workforce Framework: Provides a common definition of cybersecurity; a comprehensive list of cybersecurity tasks; an overview of the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform those tasks; and tools and resources for organizations to learn how to assess their own cybersecurity workforce needs. The Framework serves as a foundation for increasing the size and capability of the U.S. cybersecurity workforce.
  • The Cybersecurity Workforce Development Toolkit: Helps employers understand an organization’s cybersecurity staffing needs. The Toolkit includes items such as templates to create cybersecurity career paths and resources to recruit and retain top cybersecurity talent.
  • The Federal Virtual Training Environment (FedVTE): Provides free, on-demand access to cybersecurity training for federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government employees and veterans to help the workforce maintain expertise and foster operational readiness.
  • Middle and High school cybersecurity curricula: Provides free cybersecurity curricula and workshops for middle and high school teachers across the country, encouraging greater interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields at all ages, enabling students to learn the necessary fundamentals in high school that will give them the ability to pursue cybersecurity studies or careers. 

A career in cybersecurity offers highly competitive salaries, terrific job opportunities, and a rewarding role in protecting our national security. To learn more about cybersecurity education and career development, visit To learn more about cybersecurity careers at DHS, visit

We also encourage you to get involved with National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Here are three simple ways for you to get help us spread the word:

  • Share cyber tips. Use the National Cyber Security Awareness Month hashtag – #CyberAware – in your social media messages throughout October. Find sample language here.

  • Become a Champion. Champions represent those dedicated to promoting a safer, more secure and more trusted Internet. Being a Champion is easy and does not require any financial support. Find more information here.

  • Join the Campaign. Find more information about how to join the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign here.

For more information on National Cyber Security Awareness Month, visit

Our Increasingly Digital Life

October 28, 2015

We are constantly connected. Even while we’re “offline” on vacation, or away from our computer or mobile devices, chances are we’re still connected in one way or another. More and more, the Internet touches almost all aspects of our daily lives.

This entry was originally posted on the Blog @ DHS. Read the rest of the blog.

Staying Protected While Always Connected

October 13, 2015

Most of us have developed a very close relationship with our mobile devices: we carry them with us throughout the day, check them frequently, and even sleep with them nearby at night. Although mobile devices allow us to instantly connect with friends and family, to access the internet, get directions, and make purchases, this increased convenience also comes at an increased risk.

This entry was originally posted on the Blog @ DHS. Read the rest of the blog.

DHS Kicks Off National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015

October 1, 2015

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced the kick-off of National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015. During this month, outreach efforts will aim to increase Americans’ understanding of basic cybersecurity practices to stay safe online and the role each of us plays in keeping cyberspace safe and secure.

“Cybersecurity is a top priority for DHS. Cyber threats are increasing in their frequency, scale, and sophistication,” said Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. “Each American is a key part of our Nation’s first line of defense and in minimizing the impact of cyber attacks. I encourage all Americans to take advantage of National Cyber Security Awareness Month as an opportunity to recognize the role they play in making the Internet safer and more secure by practicing good cyber habits at home, work, school, and on the go.”

Every day, tens of millions of Americans shop, bank, and stay in touch with friends and family online. Our Nation’s critical infrastructure systems – power grids, financial systems, and transportation systems – all rely on the Internet. This increased connectivity brings many conveniences and advantages; however, it also creates increased threats and risks to our security.

Throughout National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015, the Department is highlighting ways cybersecurity impacts Americans in all aspects of their lives, including in their use of personal technologies and in their workplaces. Everyone has a role to play in cybersecurity, whether it’s protecting their families from identity theft, protecting their workplaces from cyber attacks, or protecting their communities from cyber predators. Here are some tips to stay safe online:

  • Set strong passwords and don’t share them with anyone;
  • Keep your operating system, browser, and other critical software optimized by installing updates;
  • Maintain an open dialogue with your family, friends, and community about Internet safety;
  • Limit the amount of personal information you post online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely;
  • Be cautious about what you receive or read online—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is; and
  • Visit to learn more about how you can help strengthen America’s cybersecurity.

For more information about National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015, visit For more information on DHS’s cybersecurity efforts, visit

How to be Cyber Savvy in a “Smart World”

August 24, 2015

We now live in a “smart world,” where the Internet touches all aspects of our daily lives. We have wearables that track our eating, sleeping, and exercise habits. We utilize devices that provide us with a quicker route on a summer road trip. We own mechanisms that allow us to preheat our oven or adjust our thermostat on our way home from work before we even walk through the door. These types of devices are all part of our new, more connected world – commonly referred to as the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things includes objects or devices that send or receive data automatically via the Internet. As more devices and objects become connected to the Internet – from phones and tablets to homes, vehicles, and medical devices – it is important to realize that the security of these devices is not always guaranteed.

Why Should You Care?

  • 1.8 billion: the number of smartphone users*
  • 50 billion: the number of connected devices expected by 2020 (that’s 1 person to every 7 devices)*
  • $5 trillion: the amount the IoT market is expected to grow over the next 6 years*

Though this technology brings many conveniences to our lives, it also requires that we share more information than ever. Here are three simple steps to take to secure the devices that hold your valuable personal information.

  • Keep a clean machine. Just like your smartphone or laptop, keep any device that connects to the Internet free from viruses and malware. Update the software regularly on the device itself as well as the mobile applications you use to control the device.
  • Think twice about your device. Have a solid understanding of how a device works, the nature of its connection to the Internet, and the type of information it stores and transmits.
  • Secure your network. Properly secure the wireless network you use to connect Internet-enabled devices.

For more information on the Internet of Things, please visit

*National Cyber Security Alliance Internet of Things Infographic

Back to School: What You & Your Kids Need to Know About Cyberbullying

August 17, 2015

We are all leading increasingly digital lives, spending more and more time online. With this increased connectivity, bullying or harassment that previously only occurred in-person now occurs online. Although the Internet brings many advantages to our everyday way of life, it also provides bullies with an additional outlet to say or do damaging things outside of face-to-face interactions.  As summer comes to an end and children head back to the classroom, it is important to talk to your kids about cyberbullying. Cyberbullying includes a wide range of hurtful behavior that occurs through digital channels such as social media, text messages, emails, blogs, or instant messaging.

The Cyberbullying Research Center, a Stop.Think.Connect. National Network member, has provided a few warning signs that your child may be experiencing cyberbullying:

  • Unexpectedly avoids or stops using their device
  • Appears nervous or jumpy while on the computer or using their device
  • Seems angry, frustrated, or depressed after spending time online
  • Becomes abnormally withdrawn from usual friends and family members

The Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign encourages all parents and educators to take the following steps to help students be aware of cyberbullying and to know what to do if they come across bullying online.

  • Start conversations regularly about practicing online safety.
  • Create an open and honest environment with kids so they can feel comfortable coming to you, or a trusted adult, if they see something online that makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • Emphasize the concept of credibility to teens: not everything they see on the Internet is true, and people on the Internet may not be who they appear to be.
  • Keep your personal information private, including the names of your family members, your school, your telephone number, and your address.
  • Think twice before you post or say anything online. Once it is in cyberspace, it is out there forever.

Though the conversation around cyberbullying is typically focused on children, online bullying can actually occur to people of all ages. The Cyberbullying Research Center shared these tips for adults who are victims of cyberbullying:

  • Do not respond. Cyberbullies want you to react. If you respond angrily, the bully may feed off of that response and continue (and even escalate the severity of) the cyberbullying.
  • Record everything. Keep evidence of all content (pictures, texts, emails, tweets, status updates, etc.) that the cyberbully has sent or posted about you.
  • Talk about it. Speaking with trustworthy friends about what you are going through could be cathartic. They might have gone through similar situations might be able to give you advice.
  • Block the bully. Block the cyberbullying at its source. If you are getting incessant communications from a cyberbully, use your email, phone, or social media options to prevent that person from contacting you

For more information and resources, please visit or the Cyberbullying Research Center at

Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign Adds AARP, VA, USPS, SBA to Partner Ranks; Reaches New Milestone of 180 Partners

July 31, 2015

Today the Stop.Think.Connect. campaign announced the addition of several new members to its partner program. Over the last several months, the AARP, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the United States Postal Service (USPS), and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have joined the campaign. This has enabled the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Stop.Think.Connect. to directly convey their online safety messages to AARP’s nearly 38 million members as well as millions more people through the campaign’s 180 partners.

This entry was originally posted on the Blog @ DHS. Read the rest of the blog.

Internet Safety Month: Top Tips to Stay Safe Online

June 17, 2015

With summer right around the corner, Americans will be spending time on their mobile devices while traveling and on vacation. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly two-thirds of Americans are now smartphone owners, and for many these devices are their main entry point to the online world. This new technology has eliminated many of the stresses that come with traveling.

Mobile applications and free Wi-Fi at hotels and restaurants allow you to find great deals on flights and hotels, avoid traffic on road trips, check email, or video chat while on vacation from almost anywhere. However, with this increased convenience and connectedness comes a responsibility to stay safe while online and on your mobile device.

This June, in honor of Internet Safety Month, the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign encourages you to make online safety a priority. You don’t need to be an IT professional to protect yourself online: start with these simple tips to protecting yourself and your family while using the Internet at home or on the go:

  • Set strong passwords. Make your passwords complex by using a combination of numbers, symbols, and letters (upper and lower case). Click here for tips on how to choose a good password.
  • Think before you connect. Before you connect to any public wireless hotspot – like in an airport, hotel, train/bus station or café – be sure to confirm the name of the network and login procedures with appropriate staff to ensure that the network is legitimate. Anyone can set up a network and give it any name they want: even if a network is named after your hotel, it may have been set up by a hacker, so check with hotel staff to be sure. Don’t conduct sensitive activities, such as online shopping or banking, using a public wireless network.
  • Keep software updated. Running the most recent versions of your mobile operating system, security software, apps and Web browsers is among the best defenses against online threats.
  • Lock your device when you’re not using it. Even if you only step away for a few minutes, it’s enough time for someone else to steal, copy, or destroy your information.
  • Disconnect your device from the Internet when you aren't using it. The likelihood that attackers or viruses scanning the network for available devices will target you becomes much higher if your device is always connected.

Check out the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign’s Cybersecurity While Traveling Tip Card and the Mobile Security Tip Card for more cyber tips.

Get Involved

Here are some ways to get involved with Internet Safety Month this June:

  • Summer means kids are at home and are often spending more time online. Take a few minutes to talk with your children about online safety. Find materials to help you start the conversation on DHS’s Parents and Educators Resource page.
  • Visit Stop.Think.Connect. and for more resources and tips to help you stay safe online.
  • Become a Friend of the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign by signing up for our monthly newsletter to receive the latest cyber news and tips right to your Inbox. Sign up here.

Protect Yourself Against Tax Refund Fraud

April 6, 2015

With the April 15 deadline approaching, millions of Americans are finalizing the preparation and filing of their taxes. Unfortunately, tax season is a busy time for cyber criminals and scammers as well.

This entry was originally posted on the Blog @ DHS. Read the rest of the blog.

Data Privacy Day: Keep Your Information Safe No Matter How You Get Online

January 28, 2015

Data Privacy Day, recognized each year on January 28, is an international effort focused on protecting privacy, safeguarding data, and enabling trust. Since 2008, Data Privacy Day has encouraged everyone to weigh the benefits and risks of sharing information, understand what their information can be used for, and take steps to protect themselves and their identities.

This entry was originally posted on the Blog @ DHS. Read the rest of the blog.

Be Cyber Safe this Super Bowl

January 27, 2015

The Super Bowl is the most-watched television program in America, with more than 100 million people tuning in annually. Cyber criminals, hackers, and other malicious actors may take advantage of people’s enthusiasm for the game to gain access to information or commit fraud. While fans of opposing teams may not agree on much, everyone can agree that practicing safe online behavior is a smart play. Follow these tips to protect yourself and your family:

  • Use only reputable online retailers. Looking for a ticket to the game or official Super Bowl merchandise? Make sure the retailer is legitimate and that their website provides protection for online purchases. Look for the padlock symbol near the website address or for URLs that start with "https" or "shttp."
  • Stream carefully. For those watching the game online, make sure to use a legitimate website. Questionable websites may expose your computer to malware or other security risks to your privacy or personal information.
  • Be wary of public Wi-Fi. If you’re following the game online and in a public space, be careful about public Wi-Fi networks. Don’t conduct any sensitive activities, such as online banking or shopping, while connected to public Wi-Fi.
  • Think before you act. Be wary of "too good to be true" deals. Free tickets, cheap team merchandise, cheap collectibles – if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Slow down and think twice before clicking on such deals. It’s always important to read the fine print and see if these advertisements are a genuine touchdown rather than a malicious fumble.

The Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign encourages everyone to be cyber safe every day. For more tips and resources, visit

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft While Traveling

December 22, 2014

With the holiday season in full swing, many Americans are doing last minute shopping or heading to see family and friends. At the same time, the holiday travel season is a peak period for hackers and thieves to prey on unsuspecting travelers. Vigilance is the key to protecting yourself from identity theft when shopping and traveling.

This entry was originally posted on the Blog @ DHS. Read the rest of the blog.

Give Yourself the Gift of Online Security

November 26, 2014

According to the National Retail Federation, 141 million people spent $57.4 billion dollars during Thanksgiving weekend last year, and consumers spent nearly $600 billion during the 2013 holiday season. The biggest shopping season of the year comes with great deals and benefits to shoppers, but it also comes with certain risks.

This entry was originally posted on the Blog @ DHS. Read the rest of the blog.

Law Enforcement Embraces New Technologies to “Fight Fire with Fire”

November 7, 2014

While most people associate the U.S. Secret Service as the elite protective agency in the world, a lesser known fact is that we are at the forefront of combating cyber crime.

This entry was originally posted on the Blog @ DHS. Read the rest of the blog.

Cybersecurity Strength in Numbers

October 28, 2014

More than 150 government, nonprofit, and academic institutions are now working together to make the Internet safer and more secure through the Department of Homeland Security’s Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign. Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, and the Campaign’s partner program is one of the most powerful ways DHS connects with diverse audiences to share cybersecurity risks and best practices.

From large and small government organizations to national and international nonprofits to colleges and universities, the Campaign partners reach individuals of all ages, businesses of all sizes, and law enforcement professionals at all levels. Partners create a personal connection to engage their members in cybersecurity education and awareness and provide insight into their specific cyber needs.

Stop.Think.Connect. partners are not only reaching their members, but also engaging their collegial organizations. Thirteen new partners joined the Campaign in the first three weeks of October. These are BeReadyUtah, Colorado Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, East Central University, E-C Council Foundation, the National Association of Women Business Owners, Northern Caribbean University, the Sheriff’s Department of Sacramento County, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority Kingdom of Bahrain, Town of Queen Creek, Arizona, University Federal Credit Union, University of Texas at Arlington, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the U.S. Department of Defense.  Check our National Network (non-profit organizations), Cyber Awareness Coalition (government agencies), and Academic Alliance (colleges and universities) for information on these and other partners.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, a coordinated opportunity for all Campaign partners to highlight the issue through cybersecurity initiatives and events. This year, Campaign partners have reached millions of individuals through their outreach efforts including social media posts, events, articles, and many other cyber activities.

We each have a role to play in building a safe and resilient cyberspace. Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign partners are pivotal in helping accomplish this goal.

Join the cybersecurity movement and help make the Internet safer for everyone. Email to learn more about the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign and how your organization can get involved.

Improving Cybersecurity for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

October 24, 2014

One of the Department of Homeland Security’s priorities in cybersecurity is supporting small and medium-sized businesses. Like their larger counterparts, small and medium businesses frequently house sensitive personal data, and proprietary and financial information. And they are increasingly becoming targets for cyber criminals who recognize that smaller businesses may be easier to penetrate as they may lack the institutional knowledge and resources that larger companies have to protect their information.

This entry was originally posted on the Blog @ DHS. Read the rest of the blog.

Keeping Our Critical Infrastructure Cyber-Secure

October 20, 2014

We all are increasingly reliant on the Internet. Not just when we’re on a laptop or smart phone. The underlying critical infrastructure that provides essential services to all of us also is becoming more dependent on the internet.

This entry was originally posted on the Blog @ DHS. Read the rest of the blog.

Secure Development of IT Products

October 10, 2014

Information technology (IT) exists in almost all of the products that we use. IT products help us run our homes, businesses, and cities and help us to stay in touch with loved ones around the world.

This entry was originally posted on the Blog @ DHS. Read the rest of the blog

National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2014: Engaging All Americans in Online Safety

October 3, 2014

This week marks the start of National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2014, a time to reflect on our cybersecurity practices and promote greater online safety for all Americans.

This entry was originally posted on the Blog @ DHS. Read the rest of the blog

Back to School Resources for Teachers and Parents

August 20, 2014

It’s back to school season! While you scramble to get all the right school supplies for the classroom, be sure to equip your students with the tools they need for cyber safety, too. The Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign offers various resources for parents, educators, and students, including:

According to a recent survey, seven in 10 young people have been a victim of cyberbullying. To help protect children offline and online this school year, find ways to incorporate cyber safety into your lesson plans. The Campaign makes it easy for you to print out materials to teach about cyber safety inside and outside the classroom. To jumpstart your cyber safety efforts, follow these simple tips:

  • Create an open and honest environment with kids.
  • Start conversations regularly about practicing online safety.
  • Emphasize the concept of credibility to teens: not everything they see on the Internet is true, and people on the Internet may not be who they appear to be.
  • Keep your personal information private, including the names of your family members, your school, your telephone number, and your address.
  • Think twice before you post or say anything online. Once it is in cyberspace, it is out there forever.

Following and sharing these simple cybersecurity tips can help to create a better, safer atmosphere for your students this school year.

Be Cyber Safe While On the Go This Summer

August 1, 2014

It’s the last month of vacation for most families this summer. With end of summer in sight, many will be travelling to the beach, to theme parks, and even across the county or overseas. While you enjoy your last month of fun with the family, don’t forget to encourage and practice cyber safety, especially as you use your mobile devices while traveling.

Many people – kids and adults alike – access the Internet through mobile devices, such as cellphones, tablets, etc. Cybersecurity for mobile devices involves the same principles and tips around safely using home and work computers, including being cautious online and maintaining the security of your device.

The Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign recommends following these simple tips, whether you’re traveling or at home, when using digital devices and the Internet:

  • Keep software updated. Running the most recent versions of your mobile operating system, security software, apps and Web browsers is among the best defenses against malware, viruses and other online threats.
  • Keep your device secure by using a strong password to lock your smartphone or tablet.
  • Change any pre-configured default passwords on your mobile device to ones that would be difficult to guess.
  • Use your mobile device carefully; emails that can harm your computer can also harm your mobile device.
  • Use disk encryption features whenever available.
  • Enable two-step authentication when offered, and change passwords to any accounts you accessed while connected to an unfamiliar network.
  • When using a public or unsecured wireless connection (i.e. at a café or hotel), avoid using sites and apps that require personal information like log-ins.
  • Switch off your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections when not in use. Automatically connecting to networks can create vulnerabilities exploitable by hackers and others.
  • When banking or shopping online, use only trusted apps or websites that begin with https://.

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. When you take simple steps to protect yourself on the Internet, you create a safer Internet for everyone.

Stay Safe Online While Cheering on Team USA

June 26, 2014

As millions of Americans tune in to watch the World Cup and cheer on the U.S. men’s national soccer team, it’s important to stay vigilant against cyber criminals and hackers who may to try to take advantage of people’s enthusiasm to gain access to their information online.

This entry was originally posted on the Blog @ DHS. Read the rest of the blog.

This Summer, Keep Your Employees Cyber Safe

June 16, 2014

As a small business, keeping up with the latest competition also involves being sure that you and your employees are cyber-ready. Not only do small businesses rely on technology to perform daily functions, but the Internet provides easy ways for businesses to stay connected and informed. However, with these increased conveniences comes increased risk. According to Symantec, nearly one-third of all cyber-attacks targeted businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the largest growth area for targeted cyber-attacks in 2012. Follow these simple tips from the Department of Homeland Security’s Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign to help keep your workplace cyber safe:

  • Use and regularly update anti-virus and anti-spyware software on all computers; automate patch deployments across your organization to protect against vulnerabilities.
  • Secure your Internet connection by using a firewall, encrypting information and hiding your Wi-Fi network.
  • Establish security practices and policies to protect sensitive information; educate employees about cyber threats and how to protect your organization’s data and hold them accountable to the Internet security policies and procedures.
  • Require that employees use strong passwords and regularly change them.
  • Invest in data loss protection software for your network and use encryption technologies to protect data in transit.
  • Protect all pages on your public-facing websites, not just the checkout and sign-up pages.

Consumers are taking notice of how businesses secure their data and are more willing to trust and reward businesses for good security practices.  With cyber criminals now targeting small businesses more than ever before, it’s important to remind consumers that your business is cyber safe by following the above tips.

Keeping Kids Safe Online

May 15, 2014

Summer fun has begun! While the kids are home and enjoying the sun, don’t forget that June is Internet Safety Month. This summer, the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign is encouraging parents to take a few minutes to talk with their children about Internet safety. While increased connectivity has led to significant transformations and advances across our country – and around the world – it also has increased our shared risk. For children, this includes cyber bullying, cyber predators, and other threats. Parents, teachers, and guardians can take steps to protect children online by creating an open environment where children feel comfortable reporting abuses over the Internet. The Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign encourages adults to:

  • Be aware of what social networks your kids and teens use and how much information they share. They should never share addresses, birthdays, schools, and last names with strangers;
  • Teach your kids how to conduct searches safely by using specific and narrow search terms on commonly-used search engines to prevent unwanted and malicious results;
  • Install filters and firewalls to manage what sites your kids can access;
  • Set strong passwords that are different on every site; and
  • Remind your children not to say anything online about someone else that they would not want said about them.

At the end of the day, cybersecurity is ultimately about people and is a shared responsibility. We are all called on to ACT: Achieve Cybersecurity Together.

Ensure Your Cyber Safety this Tax Season

March 31, 2014

Not only is April tax season, but it’s also prime time for cyber criminals to try to trick unsuspecting people into sharing personal or financial information. So in addition to filing your taxes, be sure to properly safeguard your data.

This entry was originally posted on the Blog @ DHS. Read the rest of the blog.

Flat Stanley Now Helping Kids Stay Safe Online

December 23, 2013

The Department of Homeland Security’s Stop.Think.Connect. campaign is joining the Flat Stanley Project to help kids learn about the importance of cybersecurity.

This entry was originally posted on the Blog @ DHS. Read the rest of the blog.

During the Season of Giving, Don’t Give Out Your Personal Information

December 2, 2013

From smartphones and tablets to gaming systems and e-readers, this year’s holiday wish lists are more wired than ever. Many of us will immediately load photos, user accounts, and other personal data onto our new gadgets, eager to enjoy them.

However, if you are giving or receiving the newest tech toys this holiday season, don’t forget to secure new devices from cybercriminals on the hunt for personal information. Smartphones, tablets, and other electronics are now as powerful and functional as many computers. Therefore is important to protect those devices just like you protect your computer or laptop. The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) provides the following tips to safeguard your data:

  • Lock your device when you are not using it. Even if you only step away for a few minutes, it's enough time for someone else to steal or destroy your information.
  • Disconnect your device from the Internet when you aren't using it. The likelihood that attackers or viruses scanning the network for available devices will target you becomes much higher if your device is always connected.
  • Keep software up to date. Install software patches so that attackers cannot take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities. Many operating systems offer automatic updates.
  • Consider creating separate user accounts. If there are multiple people using the device, someone else may accidentally access, modify, or delete your information. If you have the option, create different user accounts for each user and set the access and privileges for each account.
  • Establish guidelines for usage. If there are multiple people using your device, especially children, make sure they understand how to use the device safely. Setting boundaries and guidelines will help protect your data.
  • Back up your data. Whether or not you take steps to protect yourself, there will always be a possibility that something will happen to destroy your data. Regularly backing up your data reduces the stress and consequences that result from losing important information.

For specific information on securing gaming systems, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s OnGuard Online. For smartphone security tips, visit the Federal Communication Commission’s Smartphone Security Checker, a new resource that demonstrates how you can be safer when using a mobile device.

Stop.Think.Connect.: Lookout for Cyber Monday Scams

November 23, 2013

Turkey, pumpkin pie, and football aren’t the only things that are part of many Americans’ Thanksgiving traditions. Deals and bargain prices have also become a part of the holiday season, and more people are going online to find them.

Cyber Monday—the Monday after Thanksgiving—is one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, providing a golden opportunity for scammers and spammers looking to take advantage of unsuspecting online shoppers. On Cyber Monday, hackers may use tactics like preying on popular keyword searches to lure shoppers to malicious websites, with the goal of collecting financial and personal information.

These simple tips can help protect your personal information and transactions on Cyber Monday and throughout the holiday season:

  • Keep your computer, browser, anti-virus and other critical software up to date.
  • Only buy from reputable sites and pay attention to URLs. Malicious websites may look similar to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net). Also look in the address box for the "s" in https:// before any transaction. That “s” tells you that the site is taking extra measures to help secure your information.
  • Beware of deals that sound too good to be true. Use caution when opening email attachments and do not follow unsolicited web links in email messages and pay special attention to extremely low prices on hard-to-get items.
  • Check privacy policies. Before providing personal or financial information, check the website's privacy policy to ensure your safety.
  • Use a credit card instead of a debit card. There are laws to limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges, and you may not have the same level of protection when using your debit card.
  • Keep a record of your order. Retain all documentation from the order in the event your purchase does not ship or if there are unauthorized charges on your bill.
  • Check your statements. Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages, and compare them to your bank statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately.

DHS Announces Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign Partnership with the National Crime Prevention Council

The Department of Homeland Security’s Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign announced a new partnership with the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), which seeks to reduce crime by helping citizens work with law enforcement to promote cybersecurity awareness and online safety. The campaign will provide NCPC with tools and resources to educate teens, young adults and parents about how youth can protect themselves from the risk of theft, fraud and abuse online.

Pictured in the photo from left to right, the iconic McGruff the Crime Dog, Ann M. Harkins, President and CEO of NCPC, Michael Kortan, Assistant Director of the FBI Office of Public Affairs, and Suzanne Spaulding, Department of Homeland Security Deputy Under Secretary, National Protection and Programs Directorate, were keynotes and special guests at the event.

“Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, and everyone must play their part,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano. “Through partnerships like this one, and initiatives like National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the Department is reaching out to audiences of all ages on the role each of us plays in securing cyberspace.”

“In today’s technology-driven world we share so much personal information about our lives in 140 characters or less that we often fail to see how it can put us at risk,” said NCPC President and CEO Ann M. Harkins. “Partnering with the Department of Homeland Security on cybersecurity awareness is the perfect complement to National Crime Prevention Month, which NCPC celebrates every October, asking every citizen to renew or join the commitment to help Take A Bite Out Of Crime.”

Stop.Think.Connect. is a national public awareness effort to guide the nation to a higher level of Internet safety and security by educating and empowering the American public to be more vigilant about practicing safe online habits. The campaign encourages Americans to view Internet safety and security as a shared responsibility at home, in the workplace, and in our communities.

NCPC was founded in 1982 with the goal of reducing crime by helping citizens work with law enforcement. Using a train-the-trainer model, NCPC has trained thousands of crime prevention practitioners and allies, including law enforcement personnel, educators, parents, youth, local and state government officials, and community leaders, to help them help their communities reduce crime.

This new partnership continues the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign’s ongoing outreach to the nation’s youth and organizations that serve them. Recently, the Department of Homeland Security announced partnerships with Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) America and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Find additional information on NCPC. Read more about the event.

Stop.Think.Connect. Encourages You to ACT for National Cyber Security Awareness Month this October

October 2011 National Cybersecurity Awareness MonthEvery day, we are more and more interconnected. We rely on the Internet for all of our day-to-day needs as it allows us to stay connected, informed, and involved. However, this increased connectivity brings increased risk of theft, fraud, and abuse - making cybersecurity one of our country’s most important national security priorities.

In recognition of the importance of cybersecurity awareness, President Obama designated October 2012 as National Cyber Security Awareness Month as a reminder that being safer and more secure online is a shared responsibility. In other words, we should always ensure that our information and critical infrastructures remain secure and reliable for everyone.

Throughout National Cyber Security Awareness Month and beyond, you’re invited to join the Department of Homeland Security's Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign to take part and ACT - Achieve Cybersecurity Together - to ensure everyone understands their role in safeguarding and securing cyberspace, recognizes how to protect themselves and their online interests, and knows who to contact if compromised online.

Here are a few simple things businesses, schools, and home users can do to practice cybersecurity during National Cyber Security Awareness Month and throughout the year:

  • Find or register a local National Cyber Security Awareness Month event.
  • Show your organization's commitment to cybersecurity by signing the online endorsement form and becoming a National Cyber Security Awareness Month Champion.
  • Download tip sheets on how to stay safer in a variety of online settings: on social networking sites, on gaming sites, on your mobile device, and distribute them within your community.
  • Participate in the NCSA's Cyber Security Awareness Volunteer Education (C-SAVE) Program and help educate elementary, middle, and high school students about Internet safety and security.
  • Add a signature block to your e-mail: "October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Stay Safe Online! Visit for the latest cybersecurity tips."

Find more information on National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

Are You Cyber Ready? Stop.Think.Connect. Commemorates National Preparedness Month

Think about this - what would you do if you received a suspicious email from a friend that only included a link? Would you click on it?  What would your spouse, children, friends, or colleagues do? Phishing attacks are only one of the many complex cyber threats we face every time we go online regardless of whether we are at home, at work, or on the go. As technology advances, so do the techniques cybercriminals use to gain access to our computer networks.

To commemorate National Preparedness Month, Americans all over the country are preparing for the unexpected fire, hurricane, tornado or man-made disasters. While the devastating effects on individuals, families, and communities caused from a natural or man-made disaster are easy to see, it is much more difficult to understand the impact of a sluggish computer infected with malware or viruses.

Unlike physical threats that prompt immediate action – like stop, drop, and roll in the event of a fire – cyber threats are often difficult to identify and comprehend. However, they can be just as dangerous. Cyber preparedness can be as simple as setting up the proper controls such as the ones listed below to increase your chances of avoiding cyber risks:

  • Only connect to the Internet over secure, password- protected networks.
  • Do not respond to online requests for personal information; most organizations – banks, universities, companies, etc. – do not ask for your personal information over the Internet.
  • Limit who you are sharing information with by reviewing the privacy settings on your social media accounts.
  • Trust your gut; if you think an offer is too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • Do not use the same password twice; choose a password that means something to you and you only; change your passwords on a regular basis.

Click here for more tips and guidance from on how to prepare in the event of a cyber-attack. If you feel you’ve been a victim of a malware attack, phishing scheme, or another cybercrime, contact your local law enforcement or the Federal Trade Commission at

Stop.Think.Connect. Partners with the Girl Scouts of USA

Girl scout troopThe Department of Homeland Security announced on August 22, 2012 during the Atlanta Cyber Tour that the Girl Scouts of the USA organization has joined the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign’s National Network, forming a new partnership which will promote cybersecurity awareness to over 3.2 million youth across the country.

The Campaign will provide the Girl Scouts with tools and resources to help raise awareness among kids, teens, and young adults about emerging online threats and the importance of cybersecurity. This partnership builds on the Campaign’s efforts to highlight curriculum resources available to communities, as well as to promote cyber awareness and educate America’s youth about safer online practices.

“Cyber education is crucial for preparing future generations for the ever-changing cyber world,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano. “With the help of Girl Scouts of the USA, the Campaign has an opportunity to broaden cybersecurity awareness to millions of American youth engaged with the Girl Scouts program.”

"This collaboration between Girl Scouts and the Department of Homeland Security will empower girls to become leaders and advocates for the safe and responsible use of technology," explained Anna Maria Chávez, Chief Executive Officer of the Girl Scouts of the USA. "We know that girls are online. As adults, it is our responsibility to create an environment that encourages girls to establish healthy online habits."

Girl Scouts of the USA was founded in 1912 with the goal of bringing girls out of isolated home environments and into community service.  Through enriching experiences, such as field trips, sports skill-building clinics, community service projects, cultural exchanges, and environmental stewardships, Girl Scouts seeks to grow courageous and strong young women.

Find additional information on Girl Scouts of the USA.

Last Published Date: February 3, 2016

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