National Cybersecurity Awareness Month: October 2018

Shared Responsibility is the theme of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) for October 2018. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) have collaborated this year to emphasize the point that cybersecurity is in everyone’s best interest, and strong defenses depend upon universal participation. 

DHS’s key messages include:

  • Strengthen the Nation’s Cybersecurity Ecosystem
  • Tackle it Together
  • Build up the Cybersecurity Workforce
  • Secure Critical Infrastructure from Cyber Threats

To support these key messages, NCSA will highlight four weekly themes throughout the month:

  • Make Your Home a Haven for Online Safety
  • Millions of Rewarding Jobs: Educating for a Career in Cybersecurity
  • It’s Everyone’s Job to Ensure Online Safety at Work
  • Safeguarding the Nation’s Critical Infrastructure

Why Shared Responsibility Is So Important

Technology is inextricable from our daily lives, from Federal governance to small business operations, to the college student watching YouTube on her university’s WiFi. We are all connected via the Internet and all have our part to play in gaining the advantage against cyber criminals, who seek to divide and conquer.

The Internet is not always a safe place, which is alarming when one considers how much information we trust it to store, process, and transmit. One person opening the wrong email attachment or clicking the wrong link can unleash malicious malware into internal networks, an event that could be avoided by providing employees with effective security awareness training.

There is an entire cybersecurity chain of responsibility that needs to be recognized. For example, consider an everyday PC. If the manufacturer installs unchangeable default passwords, that is a security risk. If the consumer or user does not install security patches from the manufacturer, that is another risk. When it comes to critical infrastructure, organizations that utilize such systems must be able to rely on best practices and frameworks developed by the Federal government. Internally, they must conduct their own assessments to ensure vulnerabilities, exposures, risks, threats, and compliance gaps are mitigated before malicious actors can exploit them.

When all hands are on deck, cybersecurity hardens at all levels. Leaders must disseminate reliable and effective training and documentation, and users, researchers, and manufacturers should ensure that knowledge is being put to good use.

For more information on National Cybersecurity Month, read the DHS’s NCSAM 2018 Toolkit.