Americans think cybersecurity is important – as long as it’s not inconvenient. According to LastPass, over 59 percent of people use the same password for multiple accounts, even though the dangers of that behavior are well-documented.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to take cybersecurity seriously, especially since multiple machines can be co-opted by one person’s mistake. Poor security practices endanger all of us, which is why the US government has made an effort to get Americans to amend their behavior.
National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) is an attempt to do just that. What’s telling about this event is that it’s spearheaded by the Department of Homeland Security. Cybersecurity isn’t just a buzzword that justifies having a complicated password. It’s a matter of national security and collective well being.
Cybersecurity Is Security, Full Stop
In 2004, leaders from the US Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance came together to launch the first NCSAM. That was the same year that Facebook launched and “wallpaper” was the No. 1 tech search. Over 30 percent of people didn’t even use the Internet yet… It’s hard to imagine such a time and it has only been 13 years!
In 2017, we have gateways to the Internet in our pockets, on our desks, and in every room of our homes. Access to the Internet is everywhere, and we are sharing personal data on it nearly every minute of every day, which means that we’re a bigger target than ever before. Worst of all, even though 64 percent of us have experienced some kind of data theft, our security practices leave a lot to be desired.
Part of this is numbness. After all, if your email account gets compromised, maybe you grumble, change your password, and move on. But what do you do if your Social Security number is leaked? What about if your company’s passwords get stolen? What does the government do if the NSA gets hacked?
These aren’t hypothetical scenarios, and they’re only going to become more frequent if we indulge bad security practices and weak infrastructures. Individually, we’re already behind the hackers, which means that the only way to change the cybersecurity landscape is to do it en masse.
How To “Celebrate” Cybersecurity Month
Fortunately, the Department of Homeland Security recognized this when it implemented this awareness month. The goal here isn’t to scare people – it’s to give them information so that they can make smart security decisions and demand that organizations do the same.
Each week of NCSAM has its own theme that revolves around a particular area of security awareness. You’ll see events, media, and activities devoted to these themes. For example, the National Cyber Security Alliance is holding a series of virtual events about topics related to cybersecurity. People (not just tech writers) and organizations should tweet about how to make transactions more secure or protect your identity across the Internet.
Use this month to learn more. Read articles about recent leaks. Spend a week changing your passwords. And if you know someone who takes cybersecurity as seriously as Equifax does, enlighten them. As a collective, awareness is one of our best weapons.
- Week 1: October 2 – 6: Simple Steps to Online Safety
Spend this week learning how to make your online behavior more secure (and tell others how to do the same).
- Week 2: October 9 – 13: Cybersecurity in the Workplace is Everyone’s Business
Poor security practices are risky and expensive for any enterprise, but they also don’t have to be a given.
- Week 3: October 16 – 20: Today’s Predictions for Tomorrow’s Internet
The capabilities of the Internet make the future feel abstract, particularly because human beings are at the helm. At least for now.
- Week 4: October 23 – 27: The Internet Wants YOU: Consider a Career in Cybersecurity
Someone has to combat those nefarious hackers, and why shouldn’t it be you?
- Week 5: October 30 – 31: Protecting Critical Infrastructure from Cyber Threats
As organizations get larger, the security risks multiply. The defences need to as well.