October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Cybersecurity is a vital part of the digital age. On every level of computer usage, including national, state, business, and even our own personal level, cybersecurity is a factor we all need to keep in mind when using computers, devices, and online resources. The cyber threats we face today include fending off foreign hackers targeting government information, businesses that need to protect the financial information for themselves and their customers, and hackers and scammers trying to steal personal and financial information from people's personal devices. Since anyone can be a target for a cyber attack or scam, everyone has a part to play when it comes to cybersecurity.

Back in 2004, the United States Department of Homeland Security, opens a new window and the National Cyber Security Alliance, opens a new window launched a monthly program called the National Cybersecurity Awareness month, held in the month of October. Their purpose with the program is to educate consumers and businesses on how to stay safe when online.

The good news is you can take simple measures to protect your devices. First of all, antivirus software and security software can offer layers of protection for your devices, even scanning devices for threats. Even so, when browsing online, you can check details about websites to know if they are reliable for online transactions. Understanding what websites are secure means any information you use for your online transactions is secure between yourself and the business in question. Most business websites have taken appropriate measures to safeguard information, but it is best to check and be sure. Having strong passwords on your accounts and setting up two-step verification protects your financial information used on credit card sites, banking websites, online purchases, and even personal information in emails and social media among other sites from would-be attackers.

However, strong passwords alone are not enough since scammers can try to reach you online through your searches and emails. Beware of phishing emails that are designed either to steal your information or install malware on your devices leaving them open to further attacks. Even searching online for jobs, social media, and random popups that appear on screen can lead to shady results leading to scams or malware that can harm your computer or steal your information.

In short, the best way you can protect your information is to stay alert when using online resources. Do not click on anything from a source you do not recognize. Do not use any contact information given through these emails. Instead, use the official company contact information found through the company website or business cards. Lastly, keep your antivirus software and security software updated on your devices.

The St. Tammany Parish Library hosts numerous programs throughout the year pertaining to computers and electronic devices, including topics such as computer basics, using email, learning about social media, avoiding scams, spotting fake information, among many others. To register for these events, sign up through the events calendar, opens a new window or by contacting a librarian.

The following databases available through St. Tammany Parish Library are useful for learning about computer basics and safe practices when using online features.

DigitalLearn.org, opens a new window - This online service focuses on computer skills including the basics of starting out with a new computer, using common programs on computers, online shopping, and even safety online. This resource does require a library card to access outside the library.

GCFLearnFree.org, opens a new window - This online resource provides free lessons on life skills, including computer usage. Included in these lessons are courses on Internet safety and computer basics, which includes a section on protecting your computer from outside threats. You can access this resource anytime, anywhere even if you do not have a library card.

Learning Express Library – Computer Skills Center, opens a new window - Learning Express Library features numerous courses on computers, including courses on computer basics, Internet use including Internet Safety, and various courses on common software on computers. You can create a free account through this resource to view the courses. This resource does requires a library card to access outside the library.

To learn more about cybersecurity in general and steps the average beginner can take to protecting their own devices, have a look at the following books and websites:

Cybersecurity Resources

The following websites, books, ebooks, and eAudiobooks discuss the various aspects of cybersecurity, including protecting your data, avoiding scams, and other topics pertaining to protecting your information, devices, and businesses, including the risks that come from cyber attacks at personal, corporate, and national levels.

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