Shepherd Snyder Published

Federal, State Officials Recognize Cybersecurity Awareness Month


October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which serves as a reminder to be mindful of digital security and how to prevent cyber attacks.

“For each risk identified you don’t mitigate, you’re accepting,” said Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Deputy Director Nitin Natarajan.

Some basic cybersecurity tips include simple tasks like creating strong, unique online passwords, updating computer software and using multi-factor authentication to keep online accounts more secure. That’s adding an extra layer to log in, like inputting a code sent via text message alongside a regular password.

“When we talk about cyber hygiene, and we talk about those core fundamentals, that’s the same whether you’re the multibillion dollar, multinational corporation, as if you’re the individual user sitting at home in West Virginia,” Natarajan said.

Being able to recognize and report phishing, or fake messages designed to trick users into sending important or sensitive information, from suspicious emails or text messages is also important.

Natarajan said ensuring your digital footprint is protected is something that should guide day-to-day decisions.

“As you look to buy software or hardware and frankly, services, you’re looking for those that have security built into the design,” Natarajan said. “If I’m going to choose a bank, do I choose a bank that offers multi-factor authentication, or one that doesn’t?”

The agency estimates cyber attacks happen between every 11 to 44 seconds nationwide.

An email sent from CISA representative Jane Cowley to West Virginia Public Broadcasting said the agency is aware of and helped combat 26 cybersecurity incidents in West Virginia within the past 13 months, including those affecting healthcare services, emergency services, local governments and private organizations.