The 12th annual National Cyber Security Awareness month kicked off at the start of October. It’s a time when those knowledgeable about IT security can (and should) help educate others on how to improve devices, software and information protection.
This is a big deal with hundreds upon hundreds of supporters, such as Intuit, BlackBerry, AVG, PhisMe, Cisco, Tripwire, Opswat, at&t, Qualys…(See the full list here).
The fact is that we are increasingly connected digitally both at home and at work. I certainly have many more devices linked to the internet than I did just a few years ago. And, with the advent of devices and services in the IoT arena, this trend is likely to continue.
While obvious advantages exist to all this connectivity, could it also be whetting the appetite of both established and burgeoning cyber criminals?
Only yesterday, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that there were more than seven million cyber and computer crimes in the UK last year.
Earlier this week, AKJ Associates reported on cyber insurance costs skyrocketing.
Also in the news is the controversy around the new Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, which is currently under review by the U.S. Senate. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the
bill would grant companies more power to obtain ‘threat’ information (for example, from private communications of users) and disclose that data to the government without a warrant—including sending data to the National Security Agency.
The EFF, not to mention, Google, Yahoo, Facebook and T-Mobile, have voiced their concerns, arguing that this Act fails to protect users’ privacy and has the potential to cause collateral harm to innocent third parties.
In short, Eek. So I say welcome to the Cyber Security Awareness month. The time is ripe for a little insight and education to help people better understand the threat and what they can do about it.
How bad is it out there?
IT security experts ESET have just issued survey findings that make for bleak reading. In an effort to better understand the role of cybersecurity in the U.S. household, ESET teamed up with the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) to conduct a joint survey entitled “Behind our Digital Doors: Cybersecurity & the Connected home.”
- Despite 79% of Americans feeling safe online, many lack the appropriate protection to secure their digital doors;
- 40% failed to properly secure their wireless routers; and
- 67% have between 1-5 connected devices, with 30% owning six or more.
Thankfully, there are some great resources out there that you can pass on to family, friends and colleagues who are less au fait with security.
Resources and Advice
Staysafeonline.org, which is underpinned by the National Cyber Security Alliance, has collated a bunch of resources to help people better understand the threat and how to protect themselves.
Dell has issued an in-depth article entitled ‘4 things to do for national cyber security awareness month’. The main points are:
- Get rid of apps you don’t need
- Use effective authentication, including two-factor authentication and strong passwords
- Apply security updates to all your systems and applications
- Learn about the latest security threats and vulnerabilities
Finally, a message from Gartner. The analyst firm maintains that cybersecurity professionals are the new guardians of the digital change. Christian Byrnes, managing vice president at Gartner, said
Cybersecurity professionals are the new guardians of big changes in the organization. Such professionals must practice business resiliency and adaptability, because they are now so integrated with digital business decisions that leaders cannot tell where business ends and cybersecurity begins…The digital explosion and the race to the edge have achieved what previous waves of technology evolution have failed to do — to integrate cybersecurity professionals and business leaders into effective teams for the protection and safety of the organization.
So no pressure on you IT security gurus out there. it seems we are all relying on you. :)