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October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), and this has implications for companies of all types. Due to the sheer amount and importance of information stored digitally, there is no business today that is immune from attack by cybercriminals.
While there's never a bad time to review security preparedness, but National Cyber Security Awareness Month is an especially opportune moment, with the government offering up plenty of tips that can guide companies to better practices. Individuals in every department should internalize this information, as the need to defend systems goes beyond dedicated IT personnel.
Every instance of National Cyber Security Awareness Month comes with a few unique themes that reflect pressing threats from the previous year. In addition to more consumer-centric and forward-looking ideas, the 2017 slate includes workplace essentials such as moving cyber security outside of the IT department and protecting companies from the threats associated the internet of things.
"It's up to all employees to be vigilant."
The Department of Homeland Security explained that every type of organization - from nonprofit groups to large corporations, government departments to universities - could be targeted. Keeping valuable information in a digital form is simply a requisite part of modern business. Hackers could strike any company, and it's up to all employees - not just full-time tech personnel - to be vigilant.
As for the internet of things, this trend has been taking individuals by surprise. With a vast array of new devices connecting to networks, people are feeding data into their systems and opening possible entryways for attackers. Getting a handle on smart devices in the workplace is can be an essential step toward lasting safety.
At its most basic level, National Cyber Security Awareness Month is changing a few behaviors which have serious consequences for internet users from all backgrounds. National Cyber Security Alliance board member Lance Spitzer used this October to offer some suggestions that can get individuals on the right track.
Social engineering, for instance, has become one of the most prominent battlefields between attackers and IT departments. Hackers aren't just using brute force to break down firewalls. Instead, they're resorting to trickery. In addition, people should employ different passwords for all their accounts and use two-factor or biometric authentication whenever possible. They can be better than a password alone.
October is the time to review and renew corporate defenses.
While National Cyber Security Awareness Month is a good time to commit to better practices in the months ahead, it's also an appropriate moment to look back on the attacks that have taken place over the past 12 months, if only to remember why defenses are so important.
Security Intelligence explained that thus far, 2017 has given companies cause for both hope and worry. The danger has come from attacks of increasing scale, with some hackers breaking into huge databases. A lot of attackers are resorting to phishing, and their bait is becoming more advanced and difficult to detect. On the plus side, companies are investing in defenses and moving ahead with advanced IT projects.
Reviewing security practices, ensuring that a whole organization is on the same page, keeping up to date with the state of the industry - these are all great ways to spend National Cyber Security Awareness Month. The threat of identity theft and the other consequences of cyberattacks should be topics of constant discussion within today's IT departments and beyond them.