Gov. JB Pritzker declares October ‘Cyber Awareness Month’ in Illinois

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Members of ‘team Red’ work on laptop computers during a mock cyberattack scenario with teams of amateur computer experts taking part and trying to fight this simulated attack in London, Friday, March, 14, 2014. The exercise comes complete with sirens and mock newscasts. It’s meant to recruit the next generation of tech talent, and is also meant to help highlight the threat many here see as inevitable: A major cyberattack on the nation’s critical infrastructure. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker released a statement Friday proclaiming the month of October as Cyber Awareness Month in Illinois to “recognize the vital role cybersecurity plays in public safety and the importance of helping Illinoisans to be more aware to avoid cyber-attacks.”

“The scale and sophistication of cyber threats continue to increase, requiring constant review and strengthening of defense strategies and an awareness of how to protect online activities,” Jennifer Ricker, Illinois CIO and Acting Secretary for the Department of Innovation & Technology, said. “It is critical that we all stay vigilant in our digital interactions and utilize information security best practices to lessen the risk of becoming a cyber victim.”

Cybersecurity Awareness Month was originally launched by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security in October 2004 as part of a broad effort to help U.S. citizens be online safely.

“Malicious cyber activity threatens the public’s safety and our economic security,” Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau said. “Taking the right security measures and being alert and aware when online are key ways to prevent cyber intrusions and online crimes. This month, we encourage all Illinoisans to arm yourself with information about the risks and learn about the steps you can take to reduce the chances of being a victim of cybercrime.”

During the month of October, the State of Illinois will conduct an employee outreach campaign to educate state staff on ways to strengthen email security. Additionally, resources for staying safe online are available at Stay Safe Online, including the tips below from the National Cybersecurity Alliance.

Some tips from the state to stay safe online can be found below:

  • When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to compromise your information. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or – if appropriate – mark it as junk.
  • Think before you act: Be wary of communications that implores you to act immediately, offers something that sounds too good to be true or asks for personal information.
  • Make your passphrase a sentence: A strong passphrase is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember. On many sites, you can even use spaces.
  • Have a unique account, unique passphrase: Having separate passphrases for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals. At a minimum, separate your work and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have the strongest passphrases.
  • Lock down your login: Fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as, multi-factor authentication or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Your usernames and passphrases are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media.

Click here to read Governor Pritzker’s full proclamation on Cyber Awareness Month in Illinois.

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