October is the time of year when we start to wrap up and prepare for the colder and gloomier months. But did you know, it is also the time when we are meant to pay full attention to our cybersecurity awareness?
For the majority of people, October is referred to as the ‘spooky season’, but for the world of IT, October has been transformed into the infamous Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Founded in 2004, when the internet and digital world were still finding their feet, Cybersecurity Awareness Month was created to be an official annual reminder to give your data privacy and cybersecurity measures a ‘health check’.
Today, this message is still at the heart of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, however, it is safe to say its prominence has grown significantly over the years. With this in mind, it begs the question, should Cybersecurity Awareness Month be every month?
Why is Cybersecurity Awareness Month important?
It is worth us first understanding why Cybersecurity Awareness Month has been so important over the past 18 years.
Unfortunately, the days when we could use the same password for all accounts and rely on its protection to keep our personal information and documents safe are long gone. In the 18 years since its creation, the nature of the digital landscape has changed significantly, with the number of threats facing users and businesses today constantly on the rise.
Today, cybercrime has become one of the biggest economic and security issues facing governments and businesses around the world. Whilst cybercrime may not always reach the headlines, its prominence is vast; In 2021 alone, businesses in the UK reported over 400,000 reports of attempted hacks or data breaches. Due to the nature of society and the world of businesses – from interactions with web portals to social media and emails – malicious actors are using cybercrime as a lucrative method to cause damage to businesses and seek financial returns.
As cybercrime continues to grow, it never has been so important to understand how you can protect yourself and your data online.
Should Cybersecurity Awareness Month be every month?
It is a suggestion every cybersecurity professional will be preaching from the hilltops.
Unfortunately, we now live and operate in a world where cybercrime is an ever-revolving door looming over organisations. So, with this in mind, we thought we would look at a few reasons why cybersecurity awareness should be recognised every month.
Hybrid working has created a relatively new cybersecurity challenge as IT teams not only have to provide a secure network for employees choosing to work from the office, but also ensure the security of those working remotely.
Unfortunately, there is only so much an IT team can do to provide secure working for those who work remotely. Remote working naturally encourages a high level of digital collaboration, public wifi, third-party applications or file-sharing providers – all of which can be vulnerable to exploitation.
As more people continue to adopt this mode of working, it is vital basic cyber hygiene is observed to ensure the safety of your organisation’s data. It is also vital to assess the risks associated with third-party software used for remote working.
Regular reviews help protect against new threats
As we know the world of cybersecurity never sleeps. With this in mind, it is widely agreed that regular updates and knowledge of what is going on are an employer’s greatest line of defence.
While most people will be aware of common phishing email attempts, they may be less familiar with other forms of threats. It is in an organisation’s best interest to constantly discuss and share the latest threats in circulation to ensure your team is aware of them, as well as focusing on actionable insights on how to protect themselves against more complex threats. How this is undertaken will depend on what is best for your team.
Surprisingly, the biggest cyber threat to an organisation is not sophisticated malware or large DDoS attacks, it is the employees.
Conducting regular security awareness training can help employees stay sharp in the face of changing threats and limit the occurrences of human error. While the majority of employees will be proactive in ensuring their digital security, ensuring your team has the tools to identify the fundamental components of a cyberattack means they will naturally be more responsive to potential risks.
There are many ways to boost cybersecurity awareness in a company and at home; however, regularly understanding and reviewing practices/actions is key to staying secure online. Fostering a culture where cyber security is taken seriously will give you the best chance of staying safe online.
How can you get involved in Cybersecurity awareness month 2022?
This year’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month theme is titled “see yourself in cyber” and revolves around adding the human element to cybersecurity. 2022 will focus on how people are part of cybersecurity, providing information and skills to ensure all individuals and organisations make smarter decisions no matter what setting they are in. So how can you get involved with Cybersecurity Awareness Month?
- Think before you click: Recognise and report phishing: If a link looks off, think before you click. It could be an attempt to get sensitive information or install malware.
- Update your software: Don’t delay — if you see a software update notification, act promptly. Better yet, turn on automatic updates.
- Use strong passwords: Use passwords that are long, unique, and randomly generated. Use password managers to generate and remember different, complex passwords for each of your accounts. A password manager will encrypt passwords, securing them for you!
- Enable multi-factor authentication: You need more than a password to protect your online accounts, and enabling MFA makes you significantly less likely to get hacked.
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