HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett has proclaimed October as “Cyber Security Awareness Month” as a reminder to everyone about the importance of protecting your personal information, computers and mobile devices online.
“The number of cyber attacks and online threats continues to increase at an alarming pace. At the same time, cyber criminals are finding new ways to exploit technology,” Corbett said. “That is why it is so important for each of us to be vigilant in safeguarding ourselves and our information on the Internet.”
This year, Pennsylvanians can learn how to improve their online security by taking the “Cyber Pledge” here. The pledge outlines simple steps that everyone can take, such as using “strong” passwords (a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters), deleting suspicious emails and keeping portable computing devices in sight at all times while in public.
According to the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a consortium of state and local governments, private sector organizations and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 73 percent of Americans have been victims of cyber crimes, at a cost of more than $400 million in 2012.
In its most recent quarterly threat report, security firm McAfee identified 18 million new instances of malicious software (known as malware) and 3.5 million suspicious URLs, which are often used to host malware or as “phishing” websites.
Last year, hackers stole information from 4.5 million tax returns in South Carolina, the largest cyber attack ever against a state government. Another data breach compromised Medicaid claims data for nearly 780,000 Utah residents.
“State agencies are entrusted with a wide variety of sensitive information, from Social Security numbers to birth records, and we have responsibility to protect that data from falling into the wrong hands,” Tony Encinias, the state’s chief information officer said. “We are constantly evaluating and updating our security practices and working cooperatively with our partners in the public and private sectors to stay ahead of new and emerging threats.”
Highlights of Pennsylvania’s information security program include:
- Policies and procedures for developing secure online applications
- Advanced computer forensics, monitoring and automated incident response capabilities
- Security policies for data encryption, privacy roles and acceptable use
- Cyber security drills
- Information security awareness training for employees
Editor’s Note: Text of governor’s proclamation follows.
NATIONAL CYBER SECURITY AWARENESS MONTH – October 2013
WHEREAS, Technology plays a fundamental role in our daily lives and in our economy, whereby citizens, schools, government agencies and businesses utilize the Internet for a variety of purposes including but not limited to: connecting with loved ones, researching policy and data, accessing online educational tools and resources to enhance learning, and conducting business operations; and
WHEREAS, our everyday lives, the security of our nation and our economic future are dependent upon a safe and reliable cyber network; and
WHEREAS, this month aims to increase public awareness concerning the importance of securing our cyber environment and deterring cyber-based threats to our private and public information; and
WHEREAS, the Commonwealth is encouraging all citizens, and all levels of government, to take action against cyber attacks in our homes, workplaces, schools and businesses; and
WHEREAS, all Pennsylvanians can safeguard themselves against cyber hazards that permeate the Internet by utilizing security practices and implementing security preparedness measures such as the installation of antivirus and malware software programs; and
WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, Pennsylvania State Police, federal and state agencies, as well as the private sector, are working together to deter, prevent and respond to all types of virtual threats to our personal and financial information; and
WHEREAS, these activities, along with organizations like the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, National Association of State Chief Information Officers, National Cyber Security Alliance, Pennsylvania’s Office of Administration, Office for Information Technology, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, the STOP.THINK.CONNECT National Campaign and others, contribute to a level of community responsibility and cyber preparedness that is critical to securing our Commonwealth and our nation; and
WHEREAS, as we observe “National Cybersecurity Awareness Month,” I urge all citizens to participate in preparedness practices and to review the Commonwealth’s Cybersecurity website at www.cybersecurity.state.pa.us for more information.
THEREFORE, I, Tom Corbett, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, do hereby proclaim the month of October 2013as NATIONAL CYBER SECURITY AWARENESS MONTH IN PENNSYLVANIA.
I call upon all citizens of the Commonwealth to recognize the importance of taking the appropriate measures to secure our cyber environment so that all citizens can take advantage of the digital information that is available to us to help expand our knowledge and continue to make technological advances in the future.