October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and the Town of Sahuarita is presenting some exciting tools, information and events for you to utilize and participate in. This year's theme is "Do your part. #BeCyberSmart", emphasizing the role that each of us plays in online safety for ourselves, our business and our community. Regardless of whether we're at our job, at home, raising children, retired or attending school ourselves, being online is as much a part of our lives as driving, going to the grocery store and watching television. We live in a digital world. Our personal finances, social connections, work and more exist in the cloud. When was the last time you used cash or a check to make a large purchase? Have you used FaceTime recently to talk to loved ones? How about emailing your boss about an important matter? It's difficult for some of us to remember what life was like before the advent of the information age. Unfortunately, living in this era makes us more vulnerable than ever to invasions of privacy, fraud and other malicious acts. That's why cybersecurity is so important.

Cybersecurity means protecting ourselves, our workplace and our community from online criminal acts or unauthorized exploitation. It is the practice of ensuring we can communicate confidentially and have reliable information readily available. It is the art of knowing when we are placing ourselves and our information at risk and what we can do to prevent that. Good cybersecurity protects data and provides security for making digital connections to your bank, your school and your job. Poor cybersecurity neglects data protection and provides little security for enabling those connections. With good cybersecurity in place, we can be confident that the systems we are using are well protected, have backups in place and are fairly resistant to cyberattack. With poor cybersecurity established we can't be confident of any of those things.

Cyberattacks happen to anyone, any business, anywhere at anytime. Cyberattacks can take many forms. One that is in the news frequently is called a 'ransomware attack.' In this scenario, a criminal organization encrypts (electronically locks) a computers files and demands payment to release them. Other cyberattack types that don't often make the news are distributed denial of service (DDoS), malicious software (malware), Man-in-the-middle (MITM) and Business Email Compromise (BEC). One common cyberattack that most of have experienced is called Phishing. In this scenario, a criminal attempts to extract information from us (such as a password) by masquerading as a trusted entity (such as PayPal) to trick us into opening an email with an attachment or visit a compromised website.

Cybercrime is rampant today. The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received almost eight hundred thousand complaints in 2020 of suspected Internet crime with reported losses of over four billion dollars.  STOP. THINK. CONNECT. is a national initiative began in 2009 to help computer users with all levels of experience gain the confidence they need to use online resources safely. Using these three words, we can identify areas where we want to exercise caution and awareness of exactly what information is being shared, why we're sharing it and whether it needs to be shared at all.