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By Susan Hoffman
Each October, various organizations in industry, academia and business promote National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). This awareness campaign originally started in October 2004 through the work of the nonprofit National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The idea behind NCSAM was to raise general awareness of cybersecurity and to help individuals and businesses better understand how to protect themselves.
How National Cybersecurity Awareness Month Has Grown over the Years
NCSAM has grown considerably over time in order to adapt to ever-changing threats in cybersecurity.
According to “StaySafeOnline,” a website created by NCSA, “When NCSAM first began, the awareness efforts centered around advice like updating your antivirus software twice a year…the month’s effort has grown to include the participation of a multitude of industry participants that engage their customers, employees and the general public in awareness, as well as college campuses, nonprofits and other groups.”
In 2011, NCSA and DHS adopted the idea of using weekly themes during NCSAM. NCSA notes, “This idea was based on feedback from stakeholders that the many aspects of cybersecurity should be better articulated, making it easier for other groups to align with specific themes. Themes have included education, cybercrime, law enforcement, mobility, critical infrastructure, and small- and medium-sized businesses.”
NCSAM Themes for 2019
For many years, the overarching theme of NCSAM was “Our Shared Responsibility.” Recently, that theme shifted to “Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.” The different aspects of this theme involve various security practices.
- Staying safe on social media – avoiding the oversharing of personal information on social media sites
- Updating privacy settings – switching your social media sites to “Private” whenever possible
- Keeping tabs on your mobile apps – making sure to download safe mobile apps to your mobile devices and being careful about what permissions you give those apps
- Shaking up your passphrase protocol – using strong, unique passwords for different websites
- Doubling your login protection – adopting multi-factor authentication
- Shopping safe online – buying from reputable sites and checking for security icons before you make purchases
- Playing hard to get with strangers – recognizing phishing scams
- Connecting and protecting – updating your security software, browser and operating system, as well as using public Wi-Fi with caution
- Protecting customer/consumer data – guarding Personally Identifiable Information (PII) from internal and external threats
Public education is an important aspect of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. By becoming more aware of cyber threats, organizations and individuals can take the steps they need to improve their cybersecurity.
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China has admitted for the first time that a massive hacking attack on U.S. government databases was carried out by Chinese hackers, but denies it was a state-backed operation. Chinese state media say the incident was among several others discussed during high-level cyber security talks in Washington this week. The revelation was mentioned almost in passing in a Xinhua state media report this week on the talks. The report did not provide any other details about the hackers or if they have been arrested. “Through investigation, the case turned out to be a criminal case rather than a state-sponsored cyber attack as the U.S. side has previously suspected,” the report says. Hackers arrested According to a report in The Washington Post Tuesday, China says a handful of hackers were arrested in connection with the case, shortly before President Xi Jinping visited Washington in September. The identities of those arrested and whether they are connected to the Chinese government remains unclear, the report adds. The hacking attack on the Office of Personnel Management’s computer systems led to a massive breach of the personal information of nearly 22 million current and former U.S. federal employees, job applicants and their families. U.S. officials […]
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