Highlights from The Dept of Homeland Security’s Cyber Security Month Recap Newsletter

November 30th, 2015

Stay safe online cyber safety

Here's a few highlights from The Dept of Homeland Security's Cyber Security Month Recap newsletter - some great tips for upcoming holiday shopping as well as a Cyber Security training program to share with any veterans or government employees you may know...

Articles selected from The Department of Homeland Security's Stop.Think.Connect November 2015 Update


We are constantly connected to technology. Through emails, texts, tweets, smartphones, and tablets, we are always online, even when we may not realize it. The critical infrastructure that runs our nation is becoming more dependent on cyber too. From the lights in our house and the water in our sink, to the roads and bridges we drive on, all of these important systems are managed on digital networks. Running these systems online create efficiencies, but also requires our government to be more vigilant about cyber intrusions and the impact this could have on our daily lives.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is committed to helping protect the cyber networks of our Nation’s critical infrastructure. This November is National Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, a chance to recognize the vital role critical infrastructure plays in our nation’s way of life. The month highlights why it is important to expand and reinforce critical infrastructure security and resilience. By raising awareness of the importance of securing the assets, systems, and networks we count on every day, we can build on the great work of this public-private partnership and further enhance the security and resilience of our critical infrastructure.

Consumers also play an important role in critical infrastructure cybersecurity. On an individual basis, consumers can:

  • Beware of requests to update or confirm personal information online. Most organizations—banks, universities, companies, etc.—do not ask for personal information over email.
  • Make sure websites that ask for personal information (to pay a utility bill, for example) use encryption to secure their websites.
  • If you run a business, make a plan to help keep your employees and community safe during an emergency and enhance your ability to recover operations quickly. If you are an employee, ask your management whether there are plans in place and request a copy.
  • Report suspicious activity you see online or in person.

For more information about Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, visit http://www.dhs.gov/critical-infrastructure-security-resilience-month.


Upcoming events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday kick off a busy month of holiday shopping. The National Retail Federation is predicting a 3.7% increase in holiday shopping this season compared to last year. Online shopping specifically is also expected to increase this year between 6% and 8% – reaching as much as $105 billion. The holidays offer a lot of great deals for consumers, but online shopping also comes with increased risk. While a large portion of annual online sales occur between Black Friday and the weekend before Christmas, these four weeks are also the biggest weeks for scammers and spammers.

To help keep your personal information and bank and credit card accounts safe this holiday season, follow these tips from the Stop.Think.Connect.™ Campaign:

  • Shop on reliable websites.  Take a look at the website’s trademark or logo to make sure it is valid. Also, pay attention to the website’s URL. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .net vs .com).
  • Protect your personal information.  Take the time to check a website's privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. If there is no policy cited, this could be a red flag that your personal information may be sold without your permission.
  • Beware of deals that sound too good to be true.  Use caution when opening email attachments and do not follow web links included in unsolicited email messages. Watch out for extremely low prices on hard-to-get holiday items. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Look for the lock.  When shopping online, check the lower-right corner of your screen for the padlock symbol and make sure the website address begins with “https://” before entering you’re your shipping, billing, or payment information.
  • Keep a record of your order.  Keep all documentation of the order in the event an order does not ship or if there are unauthorized charges on your credit or debit card statement. Also, be sure to review your credit card statement each month for irregularities.

If you think you have become a victim of identity theft, file a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center. You can also report online fraud to the Federal Trade Commission and file a report with the Department of Justice.


DHS is committed to recruiting, training, and employing eligible veterans to meet the ever growing cybersecurity mission. DHS has teamed up with the non-profit organization, Hire Our Heroes, to provide U.S. veterans with access to the Federal Virtual Training Environment (FedVTE).

FedVTE is an online, on-demand training system that provides employees at all levels of government with cybersecurity courses.  Through FedVTE, veterans have access to free cybersecurity training and certification prep courses. These courses build skills, knowledge, and abilities that will prepare veterans to compete for the top cybersecurity jobs across the country.

FedVTE is already available to government employees at all levels, so veterans that still retain their .mil email address can go directly to the website and begin taking courses. Veterans who are not currently government employees must verify their veteran status prior to receiving FedVTE registration information through https://hireourheroes.org/veterans-training/.

We encourage you to share this training information with veterans you know!