We have become so comfortable spending so much of our lives online, it’s easy to become complacent. This is a bad idea. Online fraud is growing rapidly, and we need to do everything we can to protect ourselves and our families. Enter Cyber Security Awareness Month. Organized every October since 2004 by the Department of Homeland Security, the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, Cyber Security Awareness month is meant to remind us all of the importance of securing not just our computers but our online lives.

In recognition of Cyber Security Awareness Month, NCSA has posted a number of useful online resources that cover what all consumers can do, including helpful tips like:

  • Use a suite of automatically updating security tools that includes anti-spyware, firewall and anti-virus software.
  • Be sure your operating system and Web browser are set to automatically update.
  • Update all other software as updates become available.
  • Use long, complex passwords for both your computer and your network router that include numbers, symbols and letters, and change them periodically.
  • Maintain vigilance online and be skeptical about giving up personal information.
  • Turn off your computer when you are not using it.
  • Remember your mobile device may also be connected to the Internet, so employ the same online safety behaviors when “surfing” on a mobile device.
  • Be on the lookout for signs of an infected computer including slower processing times, unwanted pop-up ads and unknowingly sending spam out to your contacts.
  • Talk to your kids about good online safety and security habits, including protecting their personal information and their reputation.
  • Know what Web sites your children are visiting online, and check their social network activity regularly. Request your children either “friend” you or provide you with a password to their account.
  • Regularly back up your data either online or to an external media source (and store in a secure location).

For a full list of cyber security tips, visit the NCSA site and check out their tip sheets.

Sitejabber has endorsed Cyber Security Awareness Month, so if you run a business or organization we would encourage you also to make an endorsement. But no matter who you are, there are lots of ways to get involved.