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Be Aware: October is National Cyber Awareness Month

“Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.” According to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), that is this year’s theme for National Cyber Awareness Month, which aims to help raise awareness for cybersecurity issues ranging from personal information being hacked to large-scale data breaches.

Capitol Technology University has extensive plans to celebrate all month long including blog posts from alumni of our cybersecurity program, which is recognized with the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) designation and recently won the 2020 SC Media Award for Best Cybersecurity Higher Education Program. This month’s activities will also feature a blog series from the perspective of employers who hire our cybersecurity graduates, current cybersecurity students, a poster contest and much more.

Cyber Awareness Month began in October 2004 through the joint effort of the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “as a broad effort to help all Americans stay safer and more secure online.”1

Originally the month-long celebration started out small, with practical advice for individuals such as updating security software on personal computers when necessary1. Over the years, Cyber Awareness Month efforts have grown immensely to include non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, and industry leaders1.

In a Washington Post article written on Cyber Awareness Month today, Jenny Menna, a former employee of the DHS spoke about her early involvement with the Month and her experience managing “the grant that funds the awareness month program during its early years.”3

““At the beginning it was really about trying to convince people they should even care about this issue,” said Menna, who…is now a cybersecurity executive at U.S. Bank. “Because of the state we’re in now, you no longer have to make that case. Now it’s, ‘Okay, now that we have your attention, here’s what you need to do to be safer.’ ””3

Since the initiative has been adopted by leaders such as DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and former President Barack Obama, Cyber Awareness Month has expanded to feature an overarching theme for the month as well as weekly cybersecurity themes within the month2.

NCSA has designated “If You Connect It, Protect It” as the theme for the week of October 5th to focus on recognizing the positive and negative impacts on internet users. The week of October 12 will center around “Securing Devices at Home and Work” to bring attention to steps organizations and employees can take to secure company and personal data, which has become increasingly important during COVID-19 as a majority of workers were forced to conduct their full-time jobs from home. During the third week of October, the NCSA will focus on the theme “Securing Internet–Connected Devices in Healthcare” which will provide an in-depth look at how healthcare providers–such as doctors’ offices, emergency rooms, mental healthcare practitioners, and more–protect our most personal and vital information. “The Future of Connected Devices” is the theme for the final week of October and will focus on upcoming innovations in tech that may change the game for companies and individuals.

“Unfortunately cybercrime is on the rise because it continues to work and with cybercriminals it’s always the fastest path to monetization and so ransomware is on the uptick and we’re seeing it getting pushed into locations that we didn’t see it before simply based on the fact that we do have a pretty wide distributed workforce now,” said Terry McGraw, the president an antivirus software company named of PC Matic Federal, in an interview with WKRN.com4.

In fact, a 2019 report released by Cybersecurity Ventures and supported by The Herjavec Group, a cybersecurity firm started by Robert Herjavec, stated that “Cyber attacks are the fastest growing crime in the U.S.,” and predicted that “cybercrime will cost the world in excess of $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015.”4

So far in 2020, there have been 540 data breaches that have affected 163,551,023 users, mainly due to two major cybersecurity breaches suffered by the “Marriott in March that potentially affected over 5 million customers, as well as the Nintendo hack announced in June that compromised 300,000 user accounts since April,” according to CNBC5.

While these numbers are down from last year when there were 811 total breaches affecting 493,011,910 people, there is still a quarter of the year left5. So remember to “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.”

References

  1. National Cybersecurity Alliance. (2020). About Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Retrieved from https://staysafeonline.org/cybersecurity-awareness-month/about-the-month/#:~:text=Cybersecurity%20Awareness%20Month%20was%20launched,safer%20and%20more%20secure%20online.
  2. Wong, M. (2020, June 29). Stanford research provides a snapshot of a new working-from-home economy. Retrieved from https://news.stanford.edu/2020/06/29/snapshot-new-working-home-economy/.
  3. Marks, J. & Riley, T. (2020, October 1). The Cybersecurity 202: Americans are as insecure as ever on the 17th annual Cybersecurity Awareness month. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/10/01/cybersecurity-202-americans-are-insecure-ever-17th-annual-cybersecurity-awareness-month/.
  4. Smith, N. (2020, October 1). Cybersecurity awareness month more important than ever, experts say. Retrieved from https://www.wkrn.com/news/cybersecurity-awareness-month-more-important-than-ever-experts-say/.
  5. Leonhardt, M. (2020, July 14). The number of data breaches is actually down 33% so far this year—here’s why. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/14/number-of-data-breaches-down-33-percent-in-first-half-of-2020.html.