What You Need to Know About Cybersecurity Awareness Month

October 15, 2021 at 3:15 pm by Amanda Canale

In 2004, the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the US Department of Homeland Security launched Cybersecurity Awareness Month in an effort to heavily encourage, educate, and assist citizens in staying safe online and how to protect their information. In addition to this annual month-long campaign, the NCSA also runs a campaign every January 28 called Data Privacy Day (but that’s a story for a different blog).

Every year in October, the NCSA creates an engaging and informative campaign in order to raise awareness about cybersecurity. This year’s theme is “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart” and has a subsequent theme for each week during the month of October. 

Week 1 – Be Cyber Smart

Knowing the basics of cybersecurity by creating strong passwords, multi-factor authentication methods, secure data backup options, and keeping up to date with software updates are only going to further protect you from cyberattacks. Some of these basic “cyber life skills” also include knowing the proper destruction method your data requires, how to properly destroy paper documents and hard drives, and memorizing record retention schedules.

Unfortunately, even knowing the basics won’t always be enough to prevent ourselves from getting in our own way. One of our blogs details the top five human error blind spots and offers other helpful basic tips to help you and your team become more #CyberSmart.

Week 2 – Fight the Phish

We’re all humans and we all make mistakes. It’s inevitable! However, not all are without consequences. According to a 2019 study, more than 80% of reported data security incidents were caused by phishing attacks. By interacting with suspicious email links, attachments, and senders, your risk of falling victim of a phishing scam rises. In today’s modern age, hackers and thieves have become even more creative when it comes to these kinds of scams. If an email or email address looks a bit off to you, it’s always best to either ignore or send to your IT department to investigate.

Week 3 – Explore. Experience. Share.

This week is led by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), an organization dedicated to promoting careers in the cybersecurity industry. Their messaging ranges from showcasing resources and programs (especially to encourage participation in more marginalized groups) to highlighting the demand for jobs in this field. According to their website, the Department of Labor predicts that IT and cybersecurity jobs will “be among the fastest growing and best paying jobs over the next decade.”

Week 4 – Cybersecurity First

Regardless of the kind of business or organization, having proper cybersecurity protocols and methods in place (in addition to proper in-house end-of-life data destruction!) should always be a priority. This final week of Cybersecurity Awareness Month is dedicated to educating individuals on making cybersecurity a top priority and not an afterthought. Data breaches are, unfortunately, no longer a possibility of “if” but “when.” 

IBM and Ponemon Institute reported that the cost of an average data breach in 2020 was approximately $3.86 million, a staggering 10% rise over the past five years. These costs can range anywhere from money lost and reputation maintenance to regulatory fines and ransomware, not to mention other direct and indirect costs. When comparing the cost of one of SEM’s Model 0101 at $5,066 (and an average lifespan of ten years) to a possible data breach resulting in millions of dollars, the right answer should be simple: by purchasing in-house end-of-life data destruction equipment, your company is making the most cost-effective, safest, and securest decision. The NCSA and everyone at SEM understand that some companies may want to cut corners and save costs; however, we strongly agree that cybersecurity should come first and foremost, and that it is worth every penny in the long run.

To find out more about Cybersecurity Awareness Month, visit their website here.