Gov. Whitmer proclaims October as Michigan Cybersecurity Awareness Month

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LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proclaimed October 2019 as Michigan Cybersecurity Month.

The declaration comes as Whitmer encourages state residents, businesses, financial institutions, schools and others to know the signs of a cyber criminal when they see them.

According to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, Michigan residents and businesses have lost more than $42 million to cybercriminal activities so far this year, with an average victim loss of more than $5,400.

“Our reliance on the internet makes us all susceptible to a sophisticated group of hackers who go online to perpetrate serious and sophisticated crimes.

Common cyber crimes include ransomware, a type of malware that “encrypts, or locks, valuable digital files and demands a ransom to release them,” according to FBI Cyber Crime.

Gov. Whitmer’s announcement leads the month in efforts by the state of Michigan to encourage Michiganders to practice safe and secure practices while using the internet.

“When it comes to preventing cybercrime, individuals must be educated and remain vigilant,” said DTMB Director Tricia Foster said in a press release. “Everyone must be careful and limit the information shared online and through email and social media,” she said.

Foster recommends installing antivirus software on all your devices and being conscious of the ways cyber criminals can target you through phishing and other identity theft scams. She said to always be suspicious of any requests that require immediate action or convey dire consequences.

FBI Cyber Crime recommends taking the following measures to protect yourself.

During October, Michigan will also partake in the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign, a national public awareness effort aimed at “increasing the understanding of cyber threats and empowering the American public to be safer and more secure online,” according to the press release.  

For Michigan residents interested in learning more about how to protect themselves and their loved ones online, visit the Michigan Cyber Initiative website at michigan.gov/cybersecurity.

On Oct. 28, the state will host the eighth annual North American International Cyber Summit in Detroit to highlight emerging trends in cybersecurity and share best practices in policy, law, and all manner of public and private interests.

The event will also feature the fourth annual Governor’s High School Cyber Challenge finals, which challenges high school students’ skills in computer science, information technology, and cybersecurity. Additional event information is available online at michigan.gov/cybersummit.

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