National Cyber Security Awareness Month: Increasing Importance In 2017 And Beyond

October is the National Cyber Security Awareness Month, an effort driven by public agencies (DHS) and supported by private entities. The goal is to promote the importance of cyber security as the internet becomes increasingly intertwined with our personal and professional lives.

In order to emphasize internet security issues, this month is divided into weekly themes to focus our attention on particular aspects of cyber security.

Week 1: October 2-6 – Theme: Simple Steps to Online Safety.
Much of the public is still unaware of simple actions that they can take to protect their identity, personal information and security online. This week focuses on the consumer and educates everyone on the simple steps that can help achieve better online security, and how to respond if they are compromised.

Week 2: October 9-13 – Theme: Cyber security in the Workplace is Everyone’s Business
Organizations are at the greatest risk of cyber attacks like ransomware, corporate espionage and service disruption. Unfortunately, hackers have turned internal employees and other insiders into pawns that they manipulate for these nefarious purposes. This week raises awareness at the corporate level, educating organizations and those operating inside them about the shared responsibility they have to protect corporate assets.

Week 3: October 16-20 – Theme: Today’s Predictions for Tomorrow’s Internet
Every aspect of our lives is becoming “internet aware” through the devices we use, and the digital information we share through these devices. Smart cities, home automation, connected entertainment systems, smartphones, digitized records, as well as smart cars and more have become a new reality. This week focuses on how to improve our quality of life through connectivity while staying secure as we bring more aspects of our day to day lives online.

Week 4: October 23-27 – Theme: The Internet Wants YOU: Consider a Career in Cyber security
One of the biggest challenges all organizations face is the lack of skilled cyber security professionals to secure and protect their critical assets. Every organization – from finance to healthcare, to hi-technology, to energy, to farming and beyond, has sensitive digital information that is a target for hackers. This week focuses on demonstrating the burning need for cyber security education and encourages young students to consider careers in the cyber security field.

Week 5: October 30-31 – Theme: Protecting Critical Infrastructure from Cyber Threats
The tail end of this month – which coincides with Halloween, highlights the scariest cyber security scenario of all. Our critical infrastructure includes our financial systems, healthcare facilities, transportation networks, energy generation and distribution infrastructure and internet/telephone communication systems. This critical infrastructure is online and is constantly targeted and tested for weaknesses by a variety of adversaries, including other nation states. Building resilience in critical infrastructure is crucial to our national security. This short week reminds us of the importance of understanding the cyber security risks to the critical infrastructure supporting our day to day lives.

This year has been a very eventful year so far, with millions of individuals affected by cyber security breaches. Organizations have faced hacks such as ransomware, phishing, and insider compromise to steal personal sensitive information. Only time will tell how these events of 2017 will affect us in the long run. As we become increasingly dependent on the internet, digital data and connected devices, we must also engage in education and discussion on how to stay safe online.

Be sure to check out our 2017 National Cyber Security Awareness Month Infographic.