October is Cyber Security Awareness Month. This month was deemed a collaborative effort between government agencies and industry leaders to bring visibility to the problems with cybercrime. An additional goal of Cyber Security Month is to ensure that all individuals and organizations have the resources to stay more secure online.
The History of Cyber Security Month
Cyber Security Month has been going strong for almost two decades and is supported by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CSIA). When it first started, awareness efforts included advice like updating antivirus software regularly. But since that time, the month has grown tremendously in terms of participation and magnitude. Recent years have included efforts for companies to engage employees and customers and increase awareness at college campuses, nonprofits, and other organizations.
Starting in 2011, the NCSA and DHS introduced the concept of incorporating weekly themes during the month. These themes are identified based on feedback from stakeholders on aspects of cybersecurity that need more attention. Past themes have included education, cybercrime, law enforcement, mobility, critical infrastructure, and small- and medium-sized businesses.
Overview of Cyber Security Awareness Month 2021
The grant theme of this year’s Cyber Security Awareness Month is “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.” It includes a focus on ensuring everyone does their part by implementing stronger security practices, raising community awareness, educating audiences, and training employees. Generally speaking, the event aims to help our interconnected world be safer and more resilient for everyone.
The weekly themes for 2021 include:
October 1: Kick-Off
This week aims to raise awareness about the importance of cyber security and ensure that everyone – including individuals and organizations – has the tools and information required to be safer and more secure online.
Week 1 – October 4: Be Cyber Smart
This week’s theme focuses on the increasing dependence upon technology and that virtually all personal and business data can be found online. This data is highly sought-after by many criminals. The first full week of Cyber Security Awareness Month will focus on best practices related to security and general cyber hygiene to keep data safer. It will include topics like creating strong passwords, using multi-factor authentication, backing up data, and updating software regularly, which can involve working with your managed IT service provider.
Week 2 – October 11: Fight The Phish
Week 2 will focus on the increasing number of phishing attacks and scams that have emerged since the onset of the pandemic. With these types of attacks now accounting for more than 80% of all reported security incidents, recognizing the signs of phishing scams is a high-priority focus for the month. Week 2 will include strategies related to being cautious with emails, texts messages, or chat boxes that come from a stranger or are unexpected. It will also review some of the signs that are present in phishing messages. It will stress the importance of thinking twice before opening suspicious messages, links, and attachments and reporting these messages when you can.
Week 3 – October 18: Explore. Experience. Share.
Week 3 will be led by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE). The goal of this week is to promote career opportunities in cybersecurity fields. It will contain information for students, veterans, and anyone else considering a career change or who may want to enter the field of cybersecurity.
Week 4 – October 25: Cybersecurity First
The final week in National Cyber Security Month focuses on making security practices a priority. For businesses, it will contain information about building security into products and processes. It will also discuss the importance of cybersecurity training during employee onboarding and strategies to provide staff with the tools required to keep the organization safe. It will also contain information for individuals consumers about keeping security in mind during all connections. Finally, it will review setting up a new device and security and privacy settings, which could involve working with a managed IT service provider.
Cyber Security Awareness Month reminds everyone that you must prioritize security, further emphasized by increased cybercrime during the pandemic. Cyber attacks grew in both frequency and severity across businesses of all sizes during the last 18 months.
The huge increase in ransomware and supply chain attacks demonstrates that all companies may remain a target for cybercrime. Protecting valuable data and information, preventing breaches, and ensuring your company can respond and ward off an attack is crucial. But it also takes investment in resources, including systems and knowledge.
Recent reports show that approximately 70% of users continued to work remotely during June of 2021. This shift to remote work has allowed many companies to pivot their business model and remain successful even during the pandemic. However, it has introduced many new opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit weaknesses across disparate networks. The number of reported identity theft cases more than doubled between 2019 and 2020, and the number of data breaches rose 38% between the first and second half of 2021.
These statistics underscore the importance of Cyber Security Awareness Month. It serves as a way to encourage everyone – from business leaders to citizens – to re-think their security practices in a way that provides some defense from increasingly sophisticated attacks. With the evolution of cybercrime, defensive strategies also continue to evolve. It’s simply a matter of ensuring that users have the correct information and tools to keep their data safe. Cyber Security Awareness Month attempts to bridge this gap and promote strategies and practices to keep everyone safer online.
Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2021 contains manyresources and information that can help reduce your cybersecurity risks and protect yourself and your company online. These resources can be accessed for free and shared across your organization to encourage safer nationwide security. There are also Toolkits for any type of organization and educational programs on specific topics. Accessing these resources is one fundamental way to promote digital security. To learn more about increasing your online security practices, contact Sagacent Technologies, an advanced managed IT service provider. Our experts can help you identify ways to promote security practices during Cyber Security Awareness Month and all year long!
Sagacent Technologies offers technology management and support, including proactive/preventative maintenance, onsite and offsite data back-ups, network and security audits, mobility solutions, disaster planning, and emergency business resumption services. The company serves clients of 10 to 150 employees within the Silicon Valley region.