The United States government has collaborated with the cybersecurity industry to turn October into National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). It is good for everyone when individuals, businesses and others decide to be involved in their own cyber safety. However, the public can't act to fight security breaches if they don't know what they look like or how they happen. This is why the month of October has been set aside to educate the public about how to prevent online security breaches. The bottom line is that a security breach can be a costly and embarrassing event for both individuals and brands. Many people remember the times major brands like Burger King, Jeep and Chrysler had their Twitter accounts hacked. A Twitter or Facebook hack can be an embarrassing situation for any brand that its strategy for generating leads or creating awareness. This year, the following aspects of security will be put in the spotlight:
- Securing your digital life
- Cyber security in the workplace
- Protecting your mobile devices
- Don’t let identity theft happen to you
Why Putting the Spotlight on National Cyber Security Awareness Month Is ImportantWhat many CEOs, CMOs and executive-level figures are realizing that good cybersecurity is just good business. Data breaches are something no enterprise in any industry can ignore. Recent hacks on major entities like Home Depot and Yahoo! have demonstrated to the public that no corner of our personal lives is safe. Hackers are looking for everything from credit card information to personal details when they breach networks and steal data. The threat that all Americans face is very real. Even people who don't use the Internet can still become victims of cyber theft if their personal information is stolen from the servers of the retailers, banks or healthcare companies they use. There is a lot at stake because compromised email accounts or hijacked online identities can leave victims vulnerable to everything from financial fraud to personal blackmail. One of the most challenging aspects of preventing, identifying and fixing security breaches is that they can come in a number of different forms. Here are the three most common ways that hackers infiltrate networks:
- Ransomware is a type of malware that infects computers and networks by entering in through malicious emails or online links. These dangerous programs actually restrict a user's access to files and present victims with ransom notes that demand money in exchange for access codes to decrypt those files.
- Compromised business email accounts can create some very costly repercussions for companies. Many hackers have been able to arrange to have large sums of money wired to their private bank accounts by impersonating CEOs and CFOs while requesting wire transfers. Carrying out this type of cyber crime is as simple as using a piece of malicious code to compromise the email account of a top-level executive at a company. Hackers typically gain access to corporate networks by sending innocent-looking emails to low-level employees. A total of $3 billion has potentially been lost worldwide to this type of scam. In addition to financial losses, this type of scam can create an embarrassing situation for a company.
- Intellectual property theft is a huge problem that is tied to cybersecurity breaches. Hackers are actively seeking to rob individuals and companies of their ideas, innovations, blueprints, inventions or creative works by stealing computers or breaching networks. Hackers know that things like trade secrets, scripts and other confidential tidbits can have large price tags on digital black markets. In addition, many hackers aim to blackmail their victims because they realize how valuable the stolen information is.
Making the Digital World Safer
The desire to raise awareness about the dangers that are lurking online for the average citizen is what is at the heart of National Cyber Security Awareness Month. The FBI and the cybersecurity industry want to make it known that everyone plays a role in making sure criminals don't breach networks and wield their power to do harm to the public. The public plays a big role in stopping cyber crimes because prevention needs to take place at every level if the efforts of the FBI and digital security firms are to be effective. The planners behind National Cyber Security Awareness Month are hoping that people can become educated about smart email practices, online safety and telltale danger signs in both personal and professional circumstances.
Of course, it is essential to point out that companies that handle customer information have legal and social responsibilities to safeguard that information using the best practices and technologies possible. Even marketing firms or companies that handle information about clients and consumers as part of B2B strategies need to ensure that private information is protected.