The White House today is also putting the spotlight on online safety by announcing its decision to implement a Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP). The plan includes creating a Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity, a government IT modernization effort and a call for individuals to improve their online security by enabling multi-factor authentication.
Multi-factor authentication, “adds an enormous amount of security” beyond that provided by a password alone, said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), told us. In conjunction with the White House’s announcement today, the NCSA said it will expand its education efforts to promote greater public awareness of what individuals can do to improve cybersecurity.
Second Year of Google Offer
Safer Internet Day originated with Europe’s Insafe network of organizations focused on protecting safe and responsible online access for children and young people. It now has support from a large number of international companies, including Facebook, Google, and Twitter.
This is the second year that Google has offered the reward of free cloud-based storage to users who check the security settings of their accounts. The company walks users through a series of steps to check recovery information, review connected devices, disable low-security apps and verify account permissions. Once those steps are completed, 2 GB of additional Google Drive storage are added to users’ accounts.
In the U.S., Safer Internet Day is also being marked with an event at California’s Universal Studios Hollywood that’s expected to draw hundreds of area middle- and high-school students, as well as representatives from a number of tech companies. In addition to a keynote address by World Wrestling Entertainment’s Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, the event will also feature a panel discussion on “Rejecting Hate, Building Resilience & Growing the Good Online.”
Secure All Devices — and E-mail
While the online security landscape seems to have changed a great deal over the years, Kaiser told us that the change for most individual users is more a matter of scale. Where most people used to have just one or two computers at home, today they have many different types of connected devices — from smartphones and tablets to TVs and gaming devices — that require attention to privacy and security, he said.
“Every time you connect something new to the Internet, you need to be thinking about the security of that device,” Kaiser said.
That’s become increasingly easy to do on PCs and laptops now that many operating system and browser security updates are launched automatically, he said. But people should pay attention to regularly updating the operating systems, software and apps on other devices such as smartphones as well, he said.
Kaiser noted that while people might think the most important areas they can secure are their online banking and financial accounts, they should be sure to remember their e-mail accounts and enable two-factor authentication wherever possible. If hackers can get into a person’s e-mail account, they can easily gain access to a wide range of other accounts, he said. “Your email is your gateway to your whole life,” Kaiser added.