The rapidly rising rate of digitization and everyday technological advancements have significantly blurred the line separating our virtual and real lives. Everything from our financial stability to national security has become dependent on the internet. With so many aspects of our personal and professional lives being impacted by the internet, troves of personal and business data have been stored online, making it vulnerable to cyber attacks. Owing to the increasing number of cyber attacks, the cyber security growth rate has risen significantly.
Generating cybersecurity awareness amongst all those enjoying the benefits of the internet is the first and foremost step towards securing our virtual lives against cyber attacks. To take on this momentous task, Cyber Security Awareness Month is observed every October to ensure every internet user has the knowledge and resources needed to navigate the online world safely. This initiative has significantly helped in spreading awareness about the methods and impact of the ever-evolving cyber threats.
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History of Cyber Security Awareness Month
Cyber Security Awareness Month was launched in October 2004 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). This initiative was started as a collaborative effort between the industry and government to make sure users knew the risks of insecure use of the internet and the ways they can stay safe online. Initially, the awareness efforts focused on promoting basic cyber security best practices like updating your antivirus software twice every year.
Today, after 17 years of its inception, Cyber Security Awareness Month has grown exponentially under the combined leadership of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) and NCSA. Continuing to build momentum, it has successfully reached countless consumers, SMEs, large corporations, and educational institutions. Its efforts have expanded to include the participation of numerous industry participants that impart awareness to their employees, customers, and the general public.
What Aspects of Cyber Security Does the Month Cover?
Between 2009 and 2018, the theme of the Cyber Security Awareness Month was “Our Shared Responsibility”, reflecting the role that everyone, from organizations to individual users, plays in securing the digital world. In 2010, Cyber Security Awareness Month was kicked off with the launch of President Obama’s STOP. THINK. CONNECT. campaign.
In 2011, the NCSA and DHS started coming up with four weekly themes, one for each week of the month. This facilitated the coverage of multiple aspects of cyber security throughout the month. Over the last few years, themes have included everything from education, cybercrime and law enforcement to mobility, critical infrastructure, and SMEs.
Themes for Cyber Security Awareness Month 2021
In their efforts for raising the level of cyber security awareness amongst the general public, here are the four themes CISA and NCSA have come up with for Cyber Security Awareness Month 2021.
#1 Week 1: Be Cyber Smart
To prevent cybercriminals from getting their hands on the troves of business and personal data stored on internet-connected platforms, the first week of the month centered around general cyber hygiene needed to keep the information safe. According to a report by IBM, the average total data breach costs grew from $3.86 million in 2005 to $4.24 million in 2021. Learning the basics of cyber security is the only way of keeping your data safe. So, the month’s first week is focused on spreading awareness about the best security practices like creating strong passwords, using multi-factor authentication, periodically updating the software, and backing up the data.
#2 Week 2: Fight the Phish
According to an article published by Forbes, 80% of reported security incidents in 2020 were launched through phishing attacks. The full second week of Cyber Security Awareness Month will emphasize the importance of being cautious of the emails or text messages that either seem suspicious or come from a stranger or someone unexpected. It is essential to think before clicking on the links and attachments embedded in any suspicious emails. Also, it is vital to report any suspicious emails, making it safer for others to be targeted by the same email or attacker.
#3 Week 3: Explore. Experience. Share
It has been decided that the third week of Cyber Security Awareness Month2021 will highlight the Cyber Security Career Awareness Week, which is a week-long campaign led by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE). This initiative by NICE encourages and supports students and veterans seeking to build a career in the field of cyber security. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth rate for jobs in the field of information security is projected at 37% from 2012 to 2022, which is much higher than the average for other fields. With a rapidly growing demand for skilled cyber security professionals, it has become one of the most lucrative and dynamic career fields today.
#4 Week 4: Cyber Security First
According to research conducted by Cybersecurity Ventures, cybercrime is expected to cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. This makes cybercrime one of the biggest threats to the finances and stability of all organizations and governments worldwide. The 4th and the last week of Cyber Security Awareness Month 2021 will be completely dedicated to persuading people to make cyber security a priority. To do this, businesses must take the appropriate measures to create a cyber-resilient work culture. And making your employees cyber-aware is the most effective way to do that.
Do Your Part. Be Cyber Smart!
This Cyber Security Awareness Month, do your part in furthering the movement not just for the welfare of your organization but for the safety of the entire virtual world. The best way of strengthening your organization’s defenses against cyber threats is to make your employees cyber resilient, creating an impenetrable human firewall. In order to make your employees stronger and eliminate human error, conducting effective cyber security awareness training is the best course of action.
Make sure that your training program is just as engaging and interesting as it is informative to ensure the retention of knowledge by your employees. You can make use of expertly designed awareness training tools like TSAT to equip your employees with the knowledge they need to detect and avoid cyber attack attempts. Making use of cyber attack simulation, TSAT not only allows you to assess the real-time threat posture of your organization but also mitigates cyber risks by up to 90%.
The future is awareness and it is upon us to turn the world into a big cyber resilient community. We have taken our first step, it’s time you join us in this movement.