Protect your data: National Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2019

October 14, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — It seems like privacy breaches and data security failures are more prevalent than ever, resulting in serious consequences to the average consumer. According to a report by the Identity Theft Resource Center, more than 446 million records were exposed in 2018. Institutions that do not take a proactive approach to minimizing cybersecurity risks may face enormous financial, reputational and legal repercussions.

October marks National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity.

Penn State takes data security very seriously. The University believes that protecting our most valuable information assets is everyone's responsibility -- it's a partnership between Penn State and you. 

Cybercriminals routinely target higher education institutions. They typically seek unauthorized access to the wealth of information that is being developed, collected and retained, such as personally identifiable information and research data.    

You can help to keep information secure by:

1. Taking your time. Cybercriminals are very good at trying to get people to take immediate action. Slow down and decide if the information seems unreasonable or too good to be true before taking any action.

2. Considering the source. Pay attention to the sender of the email. Is it the correct address? Does the link or attachment seem reasonable? If you’re suspicious, forward potential phishes as an email attachment to  

3. Keeping your software up to date and installing an anti-virus program. Software updates offer a line of defense against cyberattacks. You can easily enable automatic updates on Mac and Windows operating systems so that you’ll always have the latest, most protected version of the software. 

4. Using a unique password for every account you own. Attackers often count on their victims using the same credentials on other websites and systems. Make a unique password for each site and never share it. Use 2FA (two-factor authentication) where possible. To enroll, go to Penn State requires faculty and staff to use 2FA on their Penn State Access Account and recommends enabling it on other platforms that offer it, such as Gmail.

For more information on National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, visit

For more information on Penn State’s Office of Information Security, visit

Last Updated October 14, 2019