Governor Pritzker proclaims the month of October as Cyber Awareness Month in Illinois

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Governor Pritzker said on Friday that Cyber Awareness Month is an opportunity to help people recognize the vital role that cybersecurity plays in public safety and the importance of helping Illinoisans to be more aware of cyber-attacks.

“Malicious cyber activity threatens the public’s safety and our economic security,” said Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “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.”

Officials said Cybersecurity Awareness Month was launched by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in October 2004 as a broad effort to help all Americans stay safer and more secure online.

“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,” said Jennifer Ricker, Illinois CIO and Acting Secretary for the Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT).  “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.”

In October, The State of Illinois will have an employee outreach campaign to educate staff on how to strengthen email security. Resources for staying safe online are also available at Stay Safe Online.

Officials also share some tips that people can follow in order to avoid cyber-attacks:

When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to compromise information. If it looks suspicious, it’s best to delete or mark it as junk.

Think before you act: Be wary of communications that demand immediate actions, offering something that sounds too good to be true or asking for personal information.

Make your passphrase a sentence: A strong passphrase is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. On many sites, you can even use spaces.

Unique account, unique passphrase: Having separate passphrases for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals. At a minimum, separate work and personal accounts and make sure that main accounts have the strongest passphrases.

Lockdown your login: Fortify online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as multi-factor authentication or a unique one-time code through an app. Usernames and passphrases are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media.

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