October, for most of you, means spooky movies, the return of everything pumpkin spice, and the perfect weather to reunite with your favorite hoody or sweatpants. For those of us in the cybersecurity and IT fields, October – designated as Security Awareness Month since 2004 – is also a time to educate our friends, colleagues, and family members on ways to safe online. This year’s theme, See Yourself in Cyber, couldn’t be more appropriate.
2004 wasn’t that long ago, chronologically speaking. But in those 18 years, we’ve moved from a world of dial-up internet and flip-phones to a reality in which our livelihoods, reproductive health, and transportation needs are dependent on an always-connected world. As our daily lives become more intertwined with the digital realm, the impacts of cyberattacks will have increasingly real-world consequences.
Over the past couple of years consulting for smaller businesses, I’ve gotten used to questions like “Do I need to worry about viruses on an iPhone?”, and “What type of firewall should I buy?”. These aren’t bad questions and it’s very encouraging to see more and more people take an interest in their own cybersecurity, but they miss the very important point that cybersecurity is fundamentally a human problem and not a technical one. The overwhelming majority of data breaches involve a human element. Unfortunately, recent research has indicated that only a quarter of people view themselves as the most responsible party to protect their online information.
I’m a cybersecurity professional and the owner of a company. I have every incentive to sell you a fancy technical solution with high margins and call it complete protection. But as someone who recognizes the increasingly real-world stakes this once niche industry is facing, I feel the need to tell my friends, colleagues, and family members: we CAN’T do this without you. Protecting our collective safety in cyberspace is going to increasingly require participation from each and every one of us.
We’ve again partnered with the National Cybersecurity Alliance to help spread the message that cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility – including yours. Throughout October, we’ll be sharing some of our top tips for increasing your security, as well as some free resources to help keep you and your business safe online. Happy Cybersecurity Awareness Month!