Securing the Digital World

Best Advice for Digital Citizens - Stop. Think. Connect.™

Oct 03, 2016 | by Elizabeth O'Brien |

October is kind of a big deal here at RSA. It's National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) and it gives us an opportunity to bring to the general public's attention to a critical mission that we are focused on all year long - keeping businesses and individuals safe from cybercrime.

It's unfortunate that cybercrime is impactful enough to merit an awareness month. Jaw dropping statistics abound:

NCASM offers us an opportunity to share what you can do to lower the chances that you will be negatively impacted by cybercrime. The good news is that you really can make a difference, both for yourself and for the entire digital community, with one simple mantra - Stop. Think. Connect.™

The Stop. Think. Connect. campaign was developed by a coalition led by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Anti-Phishing Working Group and launched six years ago as part of NCSAM. RSA is proud to be a founding member of that coalition.

Perhaps because the technology itself facilitates the dynamic, awareness seems to fly out the window when it is applied to anything cyber. This becomes abundantly clear when you parallel online behavior with behavior in the analog world.

  • If a stranger approached you on the street and offered to sell you prescription medication for a great price, would you engage with him? So many otherwise reasonable people will click on a phishing link promising the same.
  • If a salesperson wearing a t-shirt with the store logo offers to sell you a luxury item for half price, would you hand over your credit card without checking first to ensure that he actually works there? Yet people will type their credit card details into a site offering a fantastic price on a consumer item without first checking for signs of legitimacy such as https, complete domain name or online reputation. (I have to admit that have been guilty of this - I couldn't resist the lure of $100 Ugg boots for my daughter!)
  • If you were planning on being on vacation for a week, leaving your residence unmonitored, would you put a sign on your front lawn notifying people of that fact? Yet most of us unthinkingly "check in" on Facebook from locations near and far, even posting who we are with. (Again, guilty as charged.)

This is why Stop. Think. Connect. resonates. As a collective online community, we need to practice the same reasonable behaviors in our digital lives, as we do in our analog lives. Fortunately, most organizations have a security infrastructure in place to help save us from ourselves, but that infrastructure won't ever be enough to stop cybercrime without vigilance by individuals.

The goal of every awareness month is to become dispensable - after all if we can eradicate cybercrime we won't have a need for month focused on solving the problem. If we all stop and think before we connect, we can certainly make it harder for cybercriminals to ply their trade.

Please click here more information about National Cyber Security Awareness Month. You can also find more tips for keeping yourself safe online, on the Stop. Think. Connect. website. You can also read our series "Hiding in Plain Sight," about how social media has morphed from an attack vector to a communication channel for cybercriminals