As 2023 draws closer to its conclusion, we look at how things have changed in the cybersecurity and IT sector. October isn’t just a change of seasons, it’s also Cybersecurity Awareness Month, at least in the tech sector.
Awareness and education are key ingredients to the perfect security dish. One of the root problems of cybersecurity is a lack of understanding and critical analysis. For instance, phishing remains the dominant form of malicious attack strictly because it’s still effective. And, it’s that lack of analysis which deceives most recipients and prompts intrusion events. Organizations of any size remain vulnerable.
It’s why we take the time to review and push forward with new security methods, strategies, and technologies to protect our data from theft, damage, or loss. But don’t let the naming fool you. CAM isn’t just for tech enterprises and large organizations. It’s for everyone, and what we take from it can prove invaluable for the future.
Importance of cybersecurity awareness
Just about everything we do involves technology in some capacity. Therefore, our personal data and important information flows through numerous websites, apps, programs, and spaces where identity plays a role. Unfortunately, it’s this very data in jeopardy – all the time.
We employ different services to protect ourselves, no doubt. Anti-virus software, two-factor authentication, and complex passwords are the default thinking behind good cybersecurity habits. And, for what it’s worth, they are. However, these essentials are not practiced everywhere and often lacking in business environments. Worse yet, “modern” IT teams observe a lack of preparation and resources.
That’s why, every October, we go back and see why there’s a shortfall in general cybersecurity posture. Without good cybersecurity hygiene, we expose ourselves to the nefarious deeds of ransomware gangs and malicious actors.
Making the most of Cybersecurity Awareness Month
Every organization and individual should take time to look at their current outlook and cybersecurity philosophy. Especially when adjacent to technology, contemplating how you handle cyber threats can change your outlook on numerous safety measures. We do this because, more often than not, we are reactive to threats versus proactive. We only make changes, shift mindsets, and adjust how we use technology in a post-breach environment.
Weeks go by and you use a PC system without anti-virus measures or standard protection features. It’s only after you’ve been hit by malware or a phishing scam that these things change, where a lesson has been “learned.” The problem is, that the circumstances leading to that breach could’ve been easily avoided. And that’s just on the individual level. An organization caught unaware faces greater risk and data loss if its overall strategy is only reactive.
Therefore, you can do a lot during Cybersecurity Awareness Month in terms of strategy and change. It doesn’t mean you have to break the bank and make expensive investments. But it does mean you can create new foundations for improved cybersecurity health and architecture. And yes, that applies to the individual too.
First, it’s important to take stock of current cybersecurity procedures. How does your organization handle the current threatscape? If you don’t know, there are a few questions that can help analyze the state of things.
- What tools does your organization use to analyze data, monitor networks, and detect threats?
- What is the availability of IT and cybersecurity staff, who have senior roles, who makes policy decisions?
- Is IT infrastructure up to date?
- Is their a current plan-of-action to upgrade, invest, or otherwise upscale cybersecurity posture for your enterprise?
If some of these questions cause a little panic, don’t worry. The point of Awareness Month is just that, to be aware. Understanding your current posture is the first step towards improving it. Even better, you aren’t alone. Numerous online resources exist – some directly createdby CISA – to aid organizations of all sizes.
There are several ways to approach Awareness month. Educating yourself, staff, and relevant IT tech is just the tip of the digital iceberg. There are also standards and practices you should adopt, if not already.
CISA and cybersecurity leaders highly recommend the following:
- Implement multifactor authentication for all relevant business facing devices
- Ensure that all apps and software are updated to their latest version, and consider scuttling unsupported legacy infrastructure
- Create steps to identify phishing schema and messages along with methods to quickly report them
- Develop stronger password requirements and implement password managers
The great thing is, these are practical solutions at a low – or nonexistent – cost. Budgetary concerns often create barriers for organizations that want to improve but lack capital for sound investments. But the good news is, that you don’t need to possess the finances of a massive organization to improve cybersecurity posture.
Proactivity is the best option. The less you sit and stagnate, the better off you’ll be. If you’re concerned about a lack of resources, you may want additional help.