National cybersecurity awareness month: What enterprises should know
For the past 14 years, each October has seen the observance of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), a collaborative effort between the U.S. government and the private sector to promote cybersecurity for all computer users, from consumers to enterprises. Over time, NCSAM has grown into a global initiative. For 2017, there are more than 700 partners involved globally.
The overall theme for NCSAM is “Our Shared Responsibility,” which reflects the need for everyone to take responsibility for the security of the online world. In addition to this, there are separate themes for each of the weeks during the month.
The theme for the first week aims to address cybersecurity concerns for consumers, entitled “Simple Steps to Online Safety.” It continues the “Stop. Think. Connect.” message that was introduced in 2010, which encourages users to ensure they have security measures in place to protect their devices and online information, to think about the consequences of their actions and to connect with care so that they can enjoy the internet in a safe and secure manner.
Cybersecurity for the workplace
The second week places an emphasis on creating a culture of security in the workplace under the theme “Cybersecurity in the Workplace is Everyone’s Business.” It highlights the shared responsibility for cybersecurity among all employees and promotes the use of the Cybersecurity Framework from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which provides organizations practical advice to improve security on an ongoing basis, such as improving user authentication standards.
The theme for the third week is “Today’s Predictions for Tomorrow’s Internet,” which revolves around securing the Internet of Things (IoT), from connected devices and digitized health records to smart cities and cars in the digital economy. Enterprises should identify strategies for achieving the benefits promised by hyperconnectivity while ensuring citizens use IoT in secure ways that protect their privacy. IoT has implications for people as citizens, but it will also provide huge advantages for organizations that embrace such technologies in a secure manner.
Overcoming the skills shortage
According to the Center for Cyber Safety and Education, there will be a worldwide shortage of 1.8 million information security professionals by 2022. Under the theme of “The Internet Wants You: Consider a Career in Cybersecurity,” the aim of the fourth week is to encourage students and job seekers to consider a career in cybersecurity by promoting the role of influencers such as parents, teachers and officials in encouraging young people to take a career interest in the field.
Securing essential systems
The final theme is “Protecting Critical Infrastructure from Cyberthreats.” The term “critical infrastructure” refers to essential systems like running water and phone lines that support our everyday lives. National security depends on such systems running smoothly, so protecting this infrastructure is a must. Although just two days in October are devoted to this important theme, the Department of Homeland Security has dedicated November as “Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month” to ensure the topic receives the attention it deserves.
Achieving resiliency requires organizations to emphasize business continuity and security in tandem. Research by the Ponemon Institute shows the importance of business continuity management in mitigating the effects of security incidents and breaches. The themes included in this year’s NCSAM will provide practical advice for organizations and their employees to improve their overall security posture well beyond the month of October to foster an always-on culture of security.