Since 2003, October has been declared National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) by the United States government, and each year, cybersecurity experts and communities across the world come together to share information about how to remain safe online. NCSAM itself is a collaborative initiative between the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA), which is a nonprofit organization, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The annual campaign seeks to educate individuals about the existence of different cyberthreats and the importance of digital security in an era of rapid technological change.
NCSAM has been celebrated for two decades now, and this year’s month-long theme taps into how cybersecurity education has evolved since its inception and some of the ways it must further develop for the world to be more secure. CISA also recently launched a year-round theme, “Secure Our World,” and it aims to deliver cybersecurity best practices for individuals throughout the entire year.
Upcoming cybersecurity events and activities
Throughout October, the NCA will be hosting a series of informative events, and the first one will be a kickoff webinar regarding 20 years of NCSAM. It will be held virtually on October 4 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time, and it will be led by government and industry leaders such as Congressman Eric Swalwell; Google Security Policy Manager, Tatyana Bolton; NCA Executive Director, Lisa Plaggemier; and many more. These speakers will cover how far NCSAM has come in terms of proper security guidance and what steps need to be taken moving forward. Please visit the registration page if you are interested in attending this webinar.
The NCA has organized a #CyberChat on X, formerly known as Twitter. It’s scheduled to take place on October 11 at 2 p.m. ET on the organization’s page @staysafeonline. The chat will allow firms to share helpful information, suggestions, and resources with their followers on how they can #StaySafeOnline.
For those that would like to participate in a social media challenge, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is dedicating a full week to the #MyCyberJob campaign, which will occur from October 16 to 21. People who work in the cybersecurity industry can share pictures or videos highlighting their favorite part about their job on any social media site using the hashtag #CyberCareerWeek. This challenge will allow participants to reflect on their experiences at work and showcase some of the ways they are contributing to the creation of a safer space for all.
Top cybersecurity trends for 2023
The cybersecurity world is constantly evolving and so are cyberattacks. Cybercrime is increasing and becoming more sophisticated, so it’s important to analyze the different types of threats in your environment. The purpose of the following list isn’t to instill fear, but rather, it serves as a way to raise awareness about the increasing frequency of cybercrime in today’s day and age. Let’s take a look at some recent security statistics:
- On average, 26,000 distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are executed per day, which is equivalent to 18 per minute. (Forbes)
- By 2025, the annual worldwide cost of cyberattacks is estimated to be $10.5 trillion. (Cybersecurity Ventures)
- 56% of Americans are unaware of the steps to take in response to a data breach. (Varonis)
- 80% of data breaches result from reused or weak passwords. (FinTech)
- Organizations that had security AI and automation in place were able to detect and control security breaches 28 days sooner than those that didn’t. (IBM)
Tips for beginners and SMBs to help prevent cyberattacks
Learning how to be cyber smart can seem daunting, but with the help of the following tips from the NCA and CISA, you could ensure that you maintain good cyber hygiene.
1. Create strong passwords and use a password manager. Contrary to popular belief, regularly changing your passwords every few months is no longer necessary and may be counterproductive because existing strong and unique passwords are just as difficult to compromise as new ones. Using a password manager can help store and secure complex passwords for all of your online accounts in one centralized location, and these solutions can even notify you in the event that a password gets compromised. Although many are still skeptical of password managers today, they serve as far safer options than documenting passwords in a notebook because encryption is used to protect your login credentials.
2. Incorporate the use of MFA. Getting into the habit of enabling multifactor authentication (MFA) across all of your accounts — whether that be banking, email, or social media — not only adds an extra layer of protection but also makes it difficult for bad actors to access your accounts because MFA requires a legitimate proof of identity.
3. Think before you click. Learning to recognize phishing attempts can prevent you from accidentally opening unknown links or downloading dangerous attachments. To spot a phishing email, search for slight misspellings in the sender’s email address and ensure that the message isn’t delivered using a public email domain. Also, try determining whether the language being used is alarming or if the sender is requesting urgent action, and attempt to decipher if the message has an ambiguous/generic greeting.
4. Regularly perform software updates. Ensure that you have the latest software updates across all your devices because doing so helps patch security vulnerabilities and protects your own data as well as your friends’ and families’ information from cybercriminals. Turning on automatic updates or periodically checking for software updates are best practices for cyber safety.
Resources that can help you stay protected
Implementation of strong cybersecurity measures is key to remaining safe in today’s digitalized world. Please refer to the following resources from the NSA, CISA, and Barracuda if you’re interested in learning about important cybersecurity practices:
- NSA Collection of Digital Resources
- CISA – Security Training, Exercises, and Certifications
- Barracuda Email Threat Scan
- Barracuda Ransomware Protection
Visit www.barracuda.com for more information on our complete security solutions.
Photo: Blue Planet Studio / Shutterstock
This post originally appeared on Smarter MSP.