TIPS: Stop.Think.Connect. November Update

 Shared from an email to me from U.S. Department of Homeland Security .
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Lookout for Cyber Monday Deals—and Scams

Turkey, pumpkin pie, and football aren’t the only things that are part of many American’s Thanksgiving traditions. Steals, deals, and bargain prices are also becoming a part of the holiday season—and more and more people are going online to find them.

Cyber Monday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year for consumers and retailers, also provides a golden opportunity for scammers and spammers looking to take advantage of the higher than normal amount of people shopping online. On Cyber Monday, hackers use tactics like preying on popular keyword searches, such as “jewelry” or “flat screen TV,” to lure unsuspecting shoppers to malicious websites.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Stop.Think.Connect.™ Campaign offers the following tips to help safeguard your personal information and transactions on Cyber Monday and throughout the holiday season:

  • Keep your computer, browser, anti-virus and other critical software up to date. Security updates and patches are available for free from major companies.
  • Pay attention to website URLs. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net). Also look in the address box for the “s” in https:// before any transaction. That “s” tells you that the site is taking extra measures to help secure your information.
  • Beware of deals that sound too good to be true. Use caution when opening email attachments and do not follow unsolicited web links in email messages. Pay special attention to extremely low prices on hard-to-get items.
  • Check privacy policies. Before providing personal or financial information, check the website’s privacy policy to ensure your safety.
  • Use a credit card. There are laws to limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges, and you may not have the same level of protection when using your debit card.
  • Keep a record of your order. Retain all documentation from the order in the event your purchase does not ship or if there are unauthorized charges on your bill.
  • Check your statements. Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages, and compare them to your bank statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately.


For more information on online shopping, please visit

DHS Component Spotlight: State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Cybersecurity Engagement Program

Computers, smartphones, and tablets are popular gifts for all ages during the holiday season. Technological devices not only allow Americans to access large amounts of information through the Internet, they also allow others to view or monitor our online activity by tracking what we do, view, visit, sometimes even where we go through “check-in” applications. As such, any device that is able to connect to the Internet presents potential cybersecurity risks for children, individuals, parents, organizations, governments, and businesses.

Mobile devices pose an even greater risk to state and local governments trusted to maintain the personal information of millions of our Nation’s citizens as “Bring Your Own Device,” or BYOD, initiatives get underway. As technology advancements in the United States change the way we work, live, and learn; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Cybersecurity Engagement Program helps state and local governments meet the cybersecurity challenge head on.

DHS’s State, Local, Tribal and Territorial (SLTT) Cybersecurity Engagement Program facilitates access to free cybersecurity resources enabling state and local governments with the necessary tools to strengthen their cyber infrastructure, educate their citizens, and work with DHS to defend against cyber threats and attacks.

Established in 2009, the program builds relationships with non-federal public stakeholders such as state-level elected officials and senior information technology (IT) professionals responsible for maintaining government cyber infrastructure. The program leverages partnerships with other Federal Government agencies, works with state and local associations and promotes existing DHS programs and resources.

The SLTT Cybersecurity Engagement Program has met with governors, mayors, and other elected officials to discuss what they can do to protect their citizens.  Many states have taken the lead in promoting cybersecurity and have participated in cybersecurity evaluations and assessments on their computer networks, national or state and regional level cyber exercises, or in monthly information-sharing calls on cyber attacks, trends, and defense techniques.

With support from DHS’s SLTT Program, addressing cybersecurity and protecting computer networks at the state and local government level is possible. For information on how to get your state, city, county, tribe, or territory involved in cybersecurity, send an email to

Stop.Think.Connect. Cyber Awareness Coalition Encourages all Levels of Government to Take an Active Role in Cybersecurity

In an effort to encourage much needed Federal agency and SLTT government leadership on the issue of cybersecurity, DHS’ Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign created the Cyber Awareness Coalition. The Coalition serves as an outlet for Federal agencies and SLTT governments to work directly with DHS and the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign to promote awareness about cyber threats and online safety practices both within their organizations and to their stakeholders.

As of October 2012, the Stop.Think.Connect. Cyber Awareness Coalition consists of 25 members representing nine SLTT governments and 16 Federal departments and agencies. Click here to see a list of current members. By becoming a member of the Stop.Think.Connect. Cyber Awareness Coalition, your agency or state, local, tribal, or territorial government will have opportunities to demonstrate leadership on cybersecurity. Advantages of membership in the Coalition include the ability to:

  • Form productive and open relationships with DHS, the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), and other Federal, private, and non-profit Campaign stakeholders
  • Become a cybersecurity thought leader by participating in monthly strategy conference calls with Stop.Think.Connect. leadership and stakeholders as well as distributing or contributing to Campaign cybersecurity materials, templates, resources, and tips
  • Enhance community involvement efforts through participation in Stop.Think.Connect. Cyber Tours, which attract media attention and bring together communities to embrace a more sustained, proactive approach towards online safety
  • Demonstrate concern for individuals, families, communities, and the country by working to deter vulnerabilities to online dangers

Coalition members have the opportunity to enhance community involvement efforts through participation in Stop.Think.Connect. Community Engagements, which can attract media attention and bring together communities to embrace a more sustained, proactive approach towards online safety. Monthly Stop.Think.Connect. conference calls promote a coordinated approach to cybersecurity awareness and provide opportunities for Coalition members to share insights, participate in cross-collaboration efforts, and promote cyber initiatives. Stop.Think.Connect. also provides DHS cybersecurity materials, templates, resources, and tips that can be co-branded by Coalition members.

We encourage all Federal agencies and state governments to join the Cyber Awareness Coalition by sending their seal to There are no financial obligations associated with joining.

Today’s Stop.Think.Connect. Holiday Shopping Twitter Chat Provides Tips and Resources for Safer Online Purchasing

Stop.Think.Connect., DHS, the National Cyber Security Alliance, McAfee, and other guests will join together to discuss online safety tips for a safer holiday shopping season on November 15 at 3pm EST on Twitter . Stop.Think.Connect. Twitter Chats bring together individuals, industry, non-profits, and government to discuss cyber concerns and facilitate a discussion to inform participants about the potential risks as well as provide tips and resources to help Americans of all ages make smarter and safer online decisions.

Stop.Think.Connect. encourages you to participate in the November 15 holiday shopping Twitter discussion at 3pm. Feel free to promote the discussion using your own Twitter handle by posting the following Tweet:

Join @StopThnkConnect @StaySafeOnline @McAfeeConsumer & @Cyber for an #onlinesafety & holiday shopping #Twitter chat Nov. 15 at 3p ET #ChatSTC

The Holiday Shopping Twitter Chat is one of several Stop.Think.Connect. online discussions. To commemorate National Cyber Security Awareness Month in October, Stop.Think.Connect. hosted four twitter chats that correlated with each weeks focus on Achieving Cybersecurity Together: It’s Our Shared Responsibility, Law Enforcement in Cybersecurity, Industry Efforts in Cybersecurity, and Digital Literacy and the Cyber Workforce.

During the Small Business Online Safety Twitter Chat on October 18, there were 97 participants, 266 tweets, 93 retweets, 348,784 combined followers and 1,939,797 impressions, and 131 people (Twitter handles) sent out a tweet with #ChatSTC to a combined total of 1,078,054 followers.

STC Resources

Updated: November 16, 2012 — 9:14 am

The Author

Rich Fleetwood

Rich is the founder of SurvivalRing, now in it's 24th year, author of multimedia CDs and DVDs, loves the outdoors, his family, his geeky skill-set, and lives in rural southern Wyoming, just below the continental divide (long story, that...). Always ready to help others, he shares what he learns on multiple blogs, many social sites, and more. With a background in preparedness and survival skills, training with county, state, and national organizations, and skills in all areas of media and on air experience in live radio and television, Rich is always thinking about the "big picture", when it comes to helping individuals and families prepare for life's little surprises.

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