National Internet Safety Month: This June, Take 4 Easy Steps to Stay Safe Online


By Trent Frazier, Deputy Assistant Director, CISA Stakeholder Engagement Division


The U.S. Senate first designated June as National Internet Safety Month in 2005, primarily to raise awareness of internet dangers and highlight the need for education about online safety, especially among young people. In the years since then, with the rise of smartphones, social media and other new technologies, the amount of time people spend online has grown enormously—as have the risks. 

Yet, as data from numerous studies show, the nation needs more education and training about the risks we face online and how to stay safe when using connected devices. 

Most of the time, cyberattacks occur due to poor cyber hygiene…the basics. Fortunately, there are four simple things we can all do to help protect ourselves and, by extension, others: 

  1. Use strong passwords. “Strong” means at least 16 characters, random, and unique to each account. Use a password manager to automatically generate, store, and fill in passwords for you.
  2. Turn on multifactor authentication (MFA). MFA provides an extra layer of security in addition to a password when logging into accounts and apps, like a fingerprint, a code from an authenticator app, or a code sent to your phone. Enable it on any account that offers it, especially your email, social media, and financial accounts.
  3. Update software. When devices, apps, or software programs notify us that updates are available, install them as soon as possible. Updates fix security risks to better protect our data. Turn on automatic updates to make it even easier.
  4. Recognize and report phishing. Learn to recognize signs of phishing—messages designed to trick you into downloading malware (malicious programs) or giving personal information to a criminal. If an offer is too good to be true, it's probably social engineering. If the message is alarming and requires urgent action, it might be a phishing message.  Do not click or engage—report the phish and delete the message.

CISA offers a variety of free resources to implement these steps and spread the word to friends and family. Our new cybersecurity awareness program Secure Our World provides many resources for improving online safety, such as short how-to videos on the four actions above, tip sheets in 10 languages, and more.

As the school year ends, take this opportunity to discuss the importance of these basic precautions with family and friends. You wouldn’t drive your car without buckling your seatbelt.  I buckle my seatbelt so I can be safe. I ask passengers to do the same so they can be safe. If you take these four easy steps to better cyber hygiene when online, your family and the devices you use every day will be much safer and ready for summer fun in just a few minutes!!