We’re All in This Together – Why You Should Champion National Cyber Security Awareness Month

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By Marija Atanasova

With data breaches on the rise and personal information ending up in the hands of cyber criminals, we are no longer questioning whether a breach will occur, but when the breach will occur, and how it will affect us.

According to the 2018 Data Breach Study by Ponemon, the average cost of a breach continues to rise, hitting $3.86 million this year, and the failure to quickly identify the data breach can dramatically increase the cost.

Even individuals are invested in learning more about breaches and how to protect themselves. In this post-Equifax-breach world, in which the names, social security numbers, and birthdates of 143 million U.S. consumers were exposed, we all need to be more cyber aware and proactive, especially when it comes to data security and privacy.

If you haven’t already, now is the best time to get started on it.

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Today kicks off the 15th Anniversary of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) in the U.S. To mark the occasion, agencies, businesses, schools and individuals across the nation are participating in cybersecurity awareness campaigns. For example, BrightTALK is running a month-long series of panels and webinar presentations on topics around security and privacy, basic cyber hygiene, cybersecurity careers, and how to become more cyber resilient.

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To learn more about how to get the most out of NCSAM, I recently interviewed Karen Creasey of National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), the nation’s leading nonprofit, public-private partnership promoting cybersecurity and privacy education and awareness.

Here’s what she had to say (Note: this interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.):

Q: What is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month?

Creasey: “NCSAM is observed every October and was created as a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online. Under the leadership of the Department of Homeland Security and NCSA, NCSAM has grown exponentially since its inception, reaching consumers, small- and medium-sized businesses, corporations, educational institutions and young people across the nation.”

Q: Why is cybersecurity important to individuals and businesses?

Creasey: “We use the internet for nearly everything we do. There is no longer a line between our online and offline lives, and our safety, security and economic well-being all involve the internet. Understanding the importance of cybersecurity and what stronger cybersecurity means can help both consumers and businesses better protect their most valuable assets and data.”

Q: How can we raise awareness?

Creasey: “There are many ways to help raise awareness, whether at home, school, work or in the community, such as by posting about NCSAM on social media, sharing tips with friends, family and co-workers, and hosting an employee training on cybersecurity.

Cyber professionals can volunteer at a school or community workshop to teach people about online safety, mentor a high school cyber challenge, take part in a jobs fair to expose young people to careers in cybersecurity or become a cyber influencer on social media by posting cybersecurity tips and career advice using the hashtag #CyberAware.   

Individuals and businesses can also become a NCSAM Champion. The Champions program is a free and easy way to get involved in the month.”

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Q: What do you hope to see from this year's NCSAM? 

Creasey: “The goal of NCSAM is always to generate widespread awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and inspire everyone to help themselves be safer and more secure online. In addition, NCSA and its partners are working to change behavior that makes users less vulnerable to data breaches.

We hope that all digital citizens begin to implement simple cybersecurity safety measures, such as keeping a clean machine, owning your online presence and protecting your personal information.

Cybersecurity is an afterthought for many people, and we are working to change that.”


 
 

To learn more about how to raise awareness and become involved in NCSAM visit Stay Safe Online.

You can also see more at STOP. THINK. CONNECT.

To view BrightTALK’s CISO panels and webinar presentations, see: http://bit.ly/2ImFp4X  


 

About Marija Atanasova

Marija Atanasova is the Sr. Content Strategist for the IT Security community at BrightTALK. She cares about privacy in her free time, especially how her data is collected, stored, and who has access to it.

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