October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

| October 01, 2019 | |

Cable’s Commitment to Safety Online

The explosion of Wi-Fi enabled gadgets through the Internet of Things had made everyday life easier and more efficient in many ways. With this convenience, however, also comes more stories of hacking, data breaches, identity theft, malware and other cybersecurity breaches for consumers and businesses.

This month – the 16thannual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month – we encourage you to learn how the cable industry is taking steps to protect your data and the safeguards you can enact. With the holidays and increased online shopping quickly approaching, now is a good time to protect yourself, your devices and your data.

According to the Generali Global Assistance 2019 Cyber Barometer, nearly three out of five Americans report they are “very worried” about cybersecurity issues. In fact, respondents now say that becoming a victim of identity theft is a bigger worry than a car accident – yet only about 37% of Americans regularly update their passwords.

Another study by PwC found that 85% of consumers say cybersecurity and privacy risks are among the biggest threats facing society today.

Cybersecurity risks and concerns are only expected to grow as technology becomes more sophisticated and innovators continue to develop new devices and products. In fact, the number of connected devices is projected to exceed 50 billion by 2020, more than double the number of devices in 2015.

As the nation’s largest provider of broadband, with about two-thirds of all subscribers, the cable industry is well aware of cybersecurity dangers. Not only does cable take stringent steps to protect the data of its own subscribers, it also works to keep consumers safe while using its broadband connections.

In Texas, ensuring customer privacy was a priority for the Texas Cable Association and its member companies during the recent Texas legislative session. TCA worked with legislators and other interested stakeholders on House Bill 4390 by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake) and Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), which passed and is now law.

The law modifies requirements for the disclosure of data breaches affecting the loss of sensitive personal information and creates the Texas Privacy Protection Advisory Council to study data privacy laws in Texas, other states and relevant foreign jurisdictions. TCA will actively monitor council activities. The council must report its findings and recommendations to the Legislature by Sept. 1, 2020.

What cable companies can do with your data is strictly regulated by the federal government and has been called “among the most well-protected data sets in American business.” For example, cable companies cannot disclose personal information they collect without prior consent from the customer, one of the many provisions under the Cable Act. Each cable company also has its own privacy policy.

In January 2017, cable companies and other internet service providers reaffirmed their consumer privacy principles in a federal filing with the Federal Communications Commission. The filing detailed a commitment to consumer protections in the areas of transparency, consumer choice, data security and data breach notifications.

Meanwhile, cable is tapping its technology expertise to develop new products to protect its customers while online. For example, CableLabs, the cable industry’s research and development consortium, is working to advance cybersecurity measures across the industry through both mitigation and prevention tactics. One product under development is Micronets, which CableLab says “manages all of the user’s devices and connections, monitors traffic flow and autonomously addresses security vulnerabilities.”

Although consumers say they are concerned about security, they either don’t, or don’t know how, to protect themselves. The Federal Trade Commission offers an extensive list of simple suggestions, including:

  • Using your internet browser, delete cookies or limit the kinds of cookies that can be placed on your computer.
  • Turn on the “private browsing” setting on your internet browser to keep your web activities hidden from other people who use the same computer.
  • Limit tracking in or across mobile apps by controlling identifiers that allow ad targeting or collect your location information.
  • Use Virtual Private Network (VPN) apps to shield the information on your mobile devices when on a public network.
  • Avoid oversharing of personal information in posts you make on your social networks.

The National Cyber Security Alliance, which partners with the cable industry, has these tips to help consumers “Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT:”

  • Create strong, unique passwords for each account.
  • Don’t share personal or financial information in an email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information.
  • Don’t click on links in suspicious emails or solicitations. Links in emails, posts and texts are often used by cybercriminals to try to steal your information or infect your devices.
  • Before sending or entering sensitive information online, check the security of the website.
  • Limit the type of business you conduct over open public Wi-Fi connections.
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