Celebrating 20 Years Of Cybersecurity Awareness: Secure Our World

By   ISBuzz Team
Writer , Information Security Buzz | Oct 02, 2023 05:37 am PST

October is a month known for many things: the change of seasons, the approach of Halloween, and, importantly, Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This year is especially momentous as it marks the 20th annual Cybersecurity Awareness Month, a collaborative effort launched by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA).

The Origin and Evolution of Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Cybersecurity Awareness Month had its beginnings in 2003 as a modest campaign to educate the public on the importance of digital security. Over the years, it has grown exponentially, both in reach and importance. The rapid digitization of our lives has led to a myriad of security risks that were almost unimaginable two decades ago.

The initiative, led by the DHS and NCSA, aimed to raise awareness and understanding among Americans about the importance of cybersecurity and to provide the resources needed for people to be safer and more secure online. The collaboration of government agencies, businesses, and communities has made this a strong and impactful initiative, a true testament to what can be achieved when society comes together for a common goal.

Secure Our World: The 20th-Anniversary Theme

This year’s theme, “Secure Our World,” is not just a motto for October but a year-round mantra that will carry forward into future Cyber Awareness Months. It focuses on four steps every individual can take to stay safe online:

1. Be cautious and aware: Always be skeptical of unknown links and emails. Awareness is the first line of defense.

2. Update and patch: Always keep your operating system and software up-to-date. This is essential in defending against known vulnerabilities.

3. Secure your data: Use strong, unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication wherever possible.

4. Stay informed: Continually educate yourself about the latest security threats and how to deal with them.

Why Cybersecurity Matters Now More Than Ever

We live in an age where our lives are increasingly integrated with the digital realm. From smart homes to online banking, the lines between the physical and virtual worlds are blurring. And as our dependency on technology grows, so does the significance of ensuring our digital lives are secure.

The rise in cybercrime rates, including identity theft, ransomware attacks, and data breaches, has shown that cybersecurity isn’t just an IT issue but a societal one. It impacts individuals, corporations, and even nations. The responsibility to maintain digital hygiene is not solely on cybersecurity experts but should be a collective effort.

Calling Cybersecurity Experts to Share Insights

We’ve touched on the origins, evolution, and importance of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and we now invite experts in the field to comment below. Your insights, tips, and experiences are invaluable in enriching public understanding of this critical issue. Whether you’re a seasoned security consultant or someone who has witnessed the consequences of lax security measures, your perspective is needed.

In conclusion, Cybersecurity Awareness Month serves as an annual reminder that maintaining digital hygiene is everyone’s responsibility. The theme, “Secure Our World,” encourages us to take the four essential steps to stay safe online and reinforces the importance of collective action.

This year, as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of this crucial initiative, let’s not just raise awareness but also take concrete actions to secure our world—both digital and physical.

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Larry Whiteside Jr.
October 13, 2023 1:39 pm

“Cybersecurity Awareness Month’s new evergreen theme “Secure Our World” is an excellent reminder that each and every one of us has an important role to play in protecting our world against cyber threats. Year over year, this unified and consistent message about cybersecurity awareness will re-instill the collaborative effort needed between individuals and organizations to keep our digital world safe. 

Both broad and inclusive, “Secure Our World” encompasses a wide range of cybersecurity concerns and responsibilities relevant to individuals and organizations of all sizes. To build a safer, more trusted technology driven world, there are some basic principles that every can follow to make themselves and those around them more safe: 

  • Use multifactor authentication wherever possible 
  • Use passphrases instead of passwords 
  • Never reuse a password and/or passphrase across multiple sites 
  • Don’t click on links in emails or texts that you are not expecting 
  • Financial institutions will never call you. If one does, hang up and call them back from a number you know or can verify from a website or credit card 

These rudimentary, but important guidelines, can protect you and your family at school, home, and at work. And though it’s not a complete list, it’s a starting point to move forward, safely.”

Last edited 4 months ago by Larry Whiteside Jr.
Mike Rothman
Mike Rothman , Chief Strategy Officer and GM
October 13, 2023 1:33 pm

Avoid storing data on personal devices: A crucial but often overlooked practice is discouraging employees from storing work-related information on personal devices or using personal email accounts for work purposes. Encourage the use of cloud services provided by the organization for remote work. If these resources aren’t available, make it clear that circumventing controls by using personal devices isn’t an acceptable solution.”

Last edited 4 months ago by Mike Rothman
Ed Skoudis
Ed Skoudis , President of SANS Technology Institute
October 13, 2023 1:27 pm

“I recommend a new nuance to passwords that isn’t often spoken about: adding spaces to passwords. To increase complexity, spaces can be added anywhere, but placing them at the end can be especially effective. Attackers often overlook them, causing login attempts to fail and potentially lock them out.”

Last edited 4 months ago by Ed.Skoudis
Jessica Hebenstreit
Jessica Hebenstreit , Director of Security Operations and Infrastructure
October 13, 2023 1:26 pm

“In my role overseeing cloud environments and incident response, I’m constantly immersed in cybersecurity, making Cybersecurity Awareness Month a topic I hold dear. However, I believe the traditional corporate may not resonate effectively with employees. By combining a personal touch with practical tools like password managers, you can foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness that extends beyond the workplace, enhancing overall online safety for your workforce.

Make it personal: Employees deeply care about their homes, families, and communities outside of work. To engage them in cybersecurity awareness, relate the topic to their personal lives. Show how security practices can protect their loved ones, homes, and the organizations they’re involved with beyond work. By making it personal, these habits will naturally transfer to the workplace, fostering a safer work environment.”

Last edited 4 months ago by Jessica Hebenstreit

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