What to do for Cyber Security Awareness Month

  • By David Lukic
  • Published: Oct 28, 2021
  • Last Updated: Mar 18, 2022

Society assigns seemingly arbitrary titles to certain days or months. Some are whimsical, like “Appreciate a dragon day,” while others are more poignant, like “National Cancer Prevention Month” (February). In today’s digital landscape, Cyber Security Awareness Month helps educate people on the dangers of the internet.

Cybercriminal activity has risen dramatically in recent years, and trends indicate that this will continue in the years to come. Staying informed on cyber security measures is the first step in protecting yourself and your company from data breaches, especially since human error is a significant factor in data breaches.

What is Cyber Security Awareness Month?

Cyber Security Awareness Month is a campaign held every October to raise awareness about the importance of cyber security and to share best practices for the public to protect their data and digital assets.

The National Cyber Security Alliance and the US Department of Homeland Security first collaborated in 2003 to ensure that every individual, consumer, small and medium-sized business, corporation, and educational institution have access to the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online.

The theme of this year’s Cyber Security Awareness Month will likely be understanding how different viruses work and how to keep them off your devices. This initiative presses the need for businesses to take a proactive approach to cyber security that encompasses both the technical and human aspects.

Reasons to Improve Your Cyber Security Awareness

Some benefits of educating yourself include the following:

  • Protecting Personal Information – You’ll learn information like what’s safe to share online, recognizing fake websites, and noticing fraudulent activity on your accounts.
  • Maintaining Digital Assets – Certain cyber threats can take over your devices and destroy your information. This puts important work files, family photos, and financial information stored on your computer at risk. Learn how to back up your assets correctly.
  • Minimizing Professional Risk – Cyber security is a must-have for all businesses. Knowing the best practices makes you less of a risk and can give you a leg up in advancing your career.
  • Protecting Others – Recognizing and reporting suspicious activity to the proper authorities helps prevent cyber-attacks from spreading to other victims.

How to Update Your Cyber Security Knowledge

Cyber security protocols get more sophisticated as technology grows. This means that hackers are getting increasingly creative in attacking people and networks. Staying current on cyber security is essential to protecting yourself from the latest threats and vulnerabilities. Here are some ways to keep on top of new developments in the field:

  • Read Industry News: Many “smart news” applications filter articles based on your interests. The latest events will help you understand attack artist’s current tactics.
  • Subscribe to Cyber Security Blogs: Most newsletters include “tldr” sections outlining quick changes to improve online safety. They’ll also report on recent data breaches, so you’ll know if a company you interact with has lost your information.
  • Follow Prominent Experts: Reading the comments of cyber security leaders on social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn can give you an abridged version of recent events.
  • Join Cyber Security Communities: Online groups constantly share knowledge on industry developments. They’re a great place to ask questions and learn what to do if you’ve fallen for an online attack. Good places to start are Reddit’s r/cybersecurity or finding a group on Meetup.com.

cybersecurity awareness month

Why Is Cyber Safety Important for Businesses?

As the lines between our physical and digital lives blur, the internet's impact on our homes, well-being, economic prosperity, and national security grows. Cybercrime is far more common than it was decades ago, and cybercriminals continue to look for new ways to attack and exploit businesses.

Recent events have accelerated remote work and digital communications making cyber security more vital than ever. Whenever employees receive an email, text, or phone call, they must weigh the risk of it being a phishing attack.

Most people and organizations become easy targets for anyone attempting to hack into their data when there is a lack of awareness about cyber security.

When it comes to data security, there are a number of factors to consider.

The Rise in Cybercrime

The consequences of cybercrime can be fatal, especially with the rapid development of new technologies such as self-driving cars and internet-enabled home security systems. With the advancement of technology, cybercriminals have improved their cyber-attacks. Hacking is no longer just a threat to personal information, it can also harm consumer relationships and damage reputations.

Cyber-attacks are one of the top five most significant risk factors for businesses. Experts expect attack-focused industries to double by 2025.

About 88 percent of data breaches occur due to employee error; most personal attacks are easily preventable. Cyber safety education must occur at the individual level to protect an organization as a whole.

Preserving Customer Loyalty

As Cyberthreats become more well-known among consumers, they will consider companies who take their security seriously. This protection includes preventing leaks and withholding personal information from third parties. 

However, the average consumer doesn’t know how businesses safeguard their information and assumes that big brand names do a better job. So, it’s harder for small or medium-sized companies to earn back customer loyalty after experiencing a breach.

A company that takes steps to improve its cyber security with measures like firewalls, encryption, and AI detection will be better able to attract customers’ trust and loyalty.

The Increase in “Internet of Things” (IoT) Devices

With the ability to communicate with one another, devices are becoming smarter. Homes, organizations, communities, and nations will be connected online in order to simplify and speed up our tasks. However, no matter how good security systems are, there are new weaknesses for hackers to exploit.

Our smartphones handle just about everything in modern life. However, their many functions eat up processing power and memory. Running robust monitoring systems in the background is difficult for them to handle.

This lack of security is worsened by the sheer number of IoT devices each person owns. The sudden increase in devices connected to company servers (endpoints) dramatically increases management difficulty. 

The Cost of Fixing Cyber Attacks is Increasing

Everyone is a target when it comes to data breaches, whether it's a person, a small business, or a major corporation. $3.92 million The cost of data breaches is rising, and it’s most damaging for American companies.

In 2022, the average financial cost of a US data breach was $9.44 million. This number is somewhat inflated due to many “high purse” targets being based in the US, but it’s still up nearly $500,000 from 2021.

These extreme numbers don’t represent how much a hacker earns from each attack. They’re the sum total cost of legal fees, government fines, improving security, running investigations, and lost business. The actual number may be even higher since it’s difficult to judge the financial toll of a damaged reputation accurately.

If suitable security precautions are not followed, these cyberattacks can prove to be incredibly costly for any corporation.

Everyone is Affected by Cyber Security

Taking proper cyber security precautions on your personal devices has a rippling effect on the rest of the internet community. It's critical to take charge of your cybersecurity, especially since hackers frequently target people as they are seen as an easy way into protected networks.

Improvements in Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI is a hot topic right now. It’s upsetting artistic spaces and changing how we approach countless industries. Cyber security included. There have been experiments where AI-generated phishing emails prove more effective than man-made versions.

AI can run automated attack programs and probe for weaknesses in a company’s security. This tactic is used by ethical and malicious hackers alike, and it comes down to who can patch up or exploit the vulnerability first.

What is Cyber Security Awareness Month

How to Improve Personal Cyber Security

Professional and personal cyber security habits share a lot of overlap. Try implementing some or all of the following tips to keep scammers out of your affairs.

  • Create unique and random passwords
  • Sign up for a virtual private network service
  • Opt for two-factor authentication
  • Stay away from public networks
  • Keep up with software updates
  • Deploy anti-malware on ALL devices
  • Limit what you share on social media
  • Back up your data

You must act quickly if you fall victim to an attack or even suspect it. Take actions like changing all your passwords, freezing your credit, and reporting fraud to the Federal Trade Commission. Remember that cyber security is an ongoing process that requires your full attention. It isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it part of your life.

Only by consistently following good habits can you maximize your online safety.

How Can You Spread Awareness of CSAM?

Use social media: To promote your engagement in cybersecurity awareness, use the hashtag #BeCyberSmart before and during October on your social media accounts.

Find Cybersecurity resources: Use cybersecurity resources on sites like IDStrong and CISA to help your stakeholders learn how to reduce their cybersecurity risks and protect themselves online.

Follow General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) measures: Governments around the world are paying more attention to cybercrimes. Always ensure that data you or your company handles is GDPR-compliant.

Host an event: Organize a local or virtual event or training for your company or community to talk about smart computer habits and current cybersecurity issues. Discuss appropriate security measures for email, social media, and/or online transactions with members of the community.

Make sure that everyone is involved: Anti-virus software and other out-of-the-box cybersecurity measures are not enough to prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to your data or company. Implement cyber security training to educate employees on how to make wise cyber-informed decisions that will significantly reduce cyber risks.

Conduct a data recovery strategy: As more businesses turn to the cloud, it's critical to ensure that your cloud-based data is sufficiently protected, and employees understand what to do in the event of a data breach.

 

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