October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, a collaboration led by The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA) to raise awareness of cybercrime and provide private businesses and individuals with cybersecurity management tools and strategies to keep themselves safe online.
This article takes a closer look at the initiatives behind Cybersecurity Awareness Month and explores why cybersecurity management is more critical than ever today.
What is Cybersecurity Awareness Month all about?
Cybersecurity Awareness Month originated in the USA in 2004, when the US president and Congress declared October to be a time for increasing awareness of cybersecurity threats. However, with rising cyberattacks, this strategy now has a much wider international reach.
Today, Cybersecurity Awareness Month reaches all kinds of businesses and consumers, from SMEs to large corporations. It is also recognised in education, engaging young people and helping them to stay safe online.
How has Cybersecurity Awareness Month changed over time?
Over the 18 years during which Cybersecurity Awareness Month has been running, we have seen immense change in IT and digital networks and applications, and Cybersecurity Awareness Month has needed to keep pace.
The strategies emphasised during the campaign's early years may seem basic or even insignificant compared to what is needed today. For example, the advice included simply ensuring your antivirus software was updated twice a year.
As technology progressed and the threat of cyberattacks increased, Cybersecurity Awareness Month created initiatives to raise awareness of the importance of everyone's role in keeping our cyber activity safe, from organisations' employees and customers to individual home computer users. The theme of 'Our Shared Responsibility' was used for nine years between 2009-2018, highlighting this significance.
This year, in 2022, the theme is 'See Yourself in Cyber', again highlighting how everyone can make a critical difference by implementing best practice cybersecurity management during their online activity. The campaign encourages individuals to take simple actions, such as using multi-factor authentication and strong passwords, keeping software updated and reporting phishing to help keep them and the businesses in which they work to stay safe from cyberattacks.
Cyberattacks can strike anytime, with cyber-criminals making the most of any vulnerabilities across a business's network. These attacks can come in various forms, but there are common methods that employees should be aware of, including:
- Phishing - a strategy that is becoming ever-more sophisticated using seemingly genuine emails encouraging users to click on links
- Leaked passwords – often caused by weak password security, making the data easy to steal
- Malware attacks - where users are enticed to click on links or visit rogue sites, which results in malicious software getting installed on their site and threatening their data
- A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack – where a cyberattack floods entire networks or servers with internet traffic, overwhelming the target and preventing normal access and performance
How can businesses protect themselves from cyberattacks?
Human error plays a big part in cybercrime. Therefore, businesses can significantly reduce their vulnerability to attacks by raising awareness within an organisation and training employees on what to look out for and how to prevent breaches.
However, in recent years, the issue has become more challenging. With a significant acceleration in the use of digital applications and platforms to support a business's activity, networks and infrastructure have become more complex and, therefore, more vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Tackling these risks in-house requires expertise, time and budget. For many organisations, outsourcing their cybersecurity management provides a more cost- and time-effective solution while also reassuring them of improved protection from cyberattacks.
To learn more about our centralised cybersecurity management services, please follow the link to our page.