It’s October: Remember to STOP. THINK. CONNECT.

October kicks off National Cyber Security Awareness Month, 31 days focused on raising public awareness and educating individuals and families about staying safer and more secure online. This year marks six years since the launch of STOP. THINK. CONNECT., the month’s signature safety campaign – a simple, actionable message aimed at encouraging people to help safeguard their digital lifestyles.

On Tuesday, the National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will launch NCSAM 2016 in Seattle, the city that also ushered in STOP. THINK. CONNECT. in 2010. That campaign now spans the U.S. and has made significant inroads overseas. In fact, more than 460 companies, nonprofits and government entities use the campaign to raise awareness of online safety and security by sharing helpful tips and guidance. Reminders include: keep a clean machine; when in doubt, throw suspicious emails out; and be a good digital citizen. Research shows 46 percent of teens and 28 percent of parents recognize at least one piece of STOP. THINK. CONNECT. advice – laudable progress over a relatively short period.

Still, other studies indicate that both teens and adults are unsure where to turn when they run into problems online. Microsoft recently released preliminary research about attitudes and perceptions of people’s online activities. In that study, 62 percent of teens and adults in 14 countries told us they did not know, or were unsure, where to find help when dealing with an online risk. This is where efforts like National Cyber Security Awareness Month and STOP. THINK. CONNECT. can help.

When physical safety stemming from an online interaction is a concern, contact local authorities. For other situations, individuals and families can file a report with their online service providers. Microsoft makes abuse-reporting mechanisms available in our various consumer products and services, and customers can report illegal or inappropriate content, as well as unwelcome or unwanted conduct, that violates our terms of use. Here are some useful links to some of our reporting forms and processes:

And, when it comes to online interactions, there’s no replacement for strong communications among parents, caregivers, teens and children. Taking a genuine interest in what young people do online, and assuring them that they can approach trusted adults when something doesn’t feel quite right, is essential. We offer a range of resources to help families start those critical conversations and to begin building those trust bridges.

  • For basic online safety tips at home, review and print our tip card.
  • We also have a tip sheet for online safety in the workplace.
  • At school, we offer guidance for both students and teachers, and
  • Since most computing is mobile, check out this resource to help safeguard information on the go.

All of these resources and more can be found at our website: www.microsoft.com/saferonline.   For the latest online safety news and tips, you can also “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. To learn how you can get involved this National Cyber Security Awareness Month, visit the National Cyber Security Alliance’s website, and remember to STOP. THINK. CONNECT. this month and throughout the year.