Springfield – Governor Pritzker proclaims October as Cyber Security Awareness Month in Illinois to recognize the importance of raising cyber awareness and to help Illinoisans stay safe and secure online. We must do all we can to help strengthen cyber security in our state. Our reliance on the Internet and digital information increases each year and so must our vigilance to protect ourselves online. Illinois state agencies are committed to helping residents better understand the risks and importance of cyber security.
Held every October, National Cyber Security Awareness Month was first recognized in 2004 by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a broad effort to help Americans understand the importance of cyber security. This year’s national awareness campaign emphasizes the importance of personal accountability and ways to stay cyber secure at home and in the workplace.
During October, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is joining with the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT), as well as county and municipal emergency management agencies, to increase awareness of online risks and provide tips on what people can do to prevent problems and maintain the security of cyberspace.
“The widespread usage of computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets offers countless opportunities to connect with information and people around the world, but it also provides a myriad of opportunities for cyber criminals,” said Alicia Tate-Nadeau, Acting Director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. “We want to help people understand the risks and provide simple ways they can reduce the chance of being a victim of cybercrime.”“Our best line of defense against cyber-attacks is raising awareness among users,” said Illinois CIO and DoIT Acting Director Ron Guerrier. “Every day, cyber criminals find new ways to access valuable information for financial gain or actions that could threaten our safety. To strengthen our state’s cyber posture, DoIT leads cyber awareness training for over 40,000 state employees annually.”
During the month of October, DoIT will provide outreach to state employees on cyber best practices. Additionally, IEMA’s Ready Illinois website at Ready.Illinois.gov offers links to information and tips to help people minimize the risk of being a cybercrime victim. Some of those tips include the following:
• Configure your computer securely
Use privacy and security settings in your software, email system and web browsers. Regularly update your anti-virus software to identify and thwart new strains of malicious software.
• Keep software and operating systems updated
Install all software updates as soon as they are offered; using the “auto update” setting is the best way to ensure timely updates.
• Use strong passwords
Cybercriminals use automated programs that will try every word in the dictionary in a few minutes. When creating a password, use at least 10 characters, with a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.
• Be cautious about links and attachments
Even communications you receive that appear to be from friends and family may contain links to malicious sites, so be careful when clicking on links in those messages. When in doubt, delete it.