Security begins at home: recognizing National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM)

This post originated on Forcepoint 
Written by Sarah Vela

This year, Stay Safe Online is once again bringing our collective attention to cybersecurity via National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. We look forward to October every year as it provides us a chance to participate in the conversation as we pull together to work towards a better educated and safer populace.

At Forcepoint we help protect enterprises and government agencies against data loss, insider threat, and security breaches on their networks. We also take seriously our focus on the human point. Humans are at the heart of every business and agency, and human behavior is key to understanding how to thwart security threats. Human behavior is also top of mind for us when we think about workplace security, education and recruitment, and protecting critical infrastructure.

This year, Stay Safe Online is once again bringing our collective attention to cybersecurity via National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). We look forward to October every year as it provides us a chance to participate in the conversation with other organizations and individuals as we pull together to work towards a better educated and safer populace. To that end, we’ll be participating in the weekly Twitter chats every Thursday. You can also watch this space for weekly blogs addressing the upcoming themes of the month.  

Even though our business is mostly focused on the themes from weeks 2-4 that are concerned with recruiting, workplace security, and critical infrastructure, I think we can all agree that the week 1 theme is relevant to everyone, because security definitely begins at home.

I would encourage you to take advantage of the resources library which Stay Safe Online has made available on their website. Use this annual opportunity to have a conversation with your family members – old and young – about making some simple changes in their behavior to better secure their privacy and their data. And be sure to join us for this week’s twitter chat, taking place Thursday October 4th from 2-3 PM CST, or any of the weekly chats happening each Thursday in October. You can follow along using the hashtag #ChatSTC.

Here are the weekly themes for this year:

Week 1: Oct. 1­–5: Make Your Home a Haven for Online Safety

Every day, parents and caregivers teach kids basic safety practices ‒ like looking both ways before crossing the street and holding an adult’s hand in a crowded place. Easy-to-learn life lessons for online safety and privacy begin with parents leading the way. Learning good cybersecurity practices can also help set a strong foundation for a career in the industry. With family members using the internet to engage in social media, adjust the home thermostat or shop for the latest connected toy, it is vital to make certain that the entire household ‒ including children – learn to use the internet safely and responsibly and that networks and mobile devices are secure. Week 1 will underscore basic cybersecurity essentials the entire family can deploy to protect their homes against cyber threats.

Week 2: Oct. 8–12: Millions of Rewarding Jobs: Educating for a Career in Cybersecurity

A key risk to our economy and security continues to be the shortage of cybersecurity professionals to safeguard our ever-expanding cyber ecosystem. Raising the next generation of interested and capable cybersecurity professionals is a starting point to building stronger defenses. There are limitless opportunities to educate students of all ages – from high school into higher education and beyond – on the field of cybersecurity as they consider their options. In addition, veterans and individuals who are looking for a new career or re-entering the workforce, should explore the multitude of well-paying and rewarding jobs available. Week 2 will address ways to motivate parents, teachers and counselors to learn more about the field and how to best inspire students and others to seek highly fulfilling cybersecurity careers.

Week 3: Oct. 15–19: It’s Everyone’s Job to Ensure Online Safety at Work

When you are on the job – whether it’s at a corporate office, local restaurant, healthcare provider, academic institution or government agency ‒ your organization’s online safety and security are a responsibility we all share. And, as the lines between our work and daily lives become increasingly blurred, it is more important than ever to be certain that smart cybersecurity carries over between the two. Week 3 will focus on cybersecurity workforce education, training and awareness while emphasizing risk management, resistance and resilience. NCSA’s CyberSecure My Business™ will shed light on how small and medium-sized businesses can protect themselves, their employees and their customers against the most prevalent threats.

Week 4: Oct. 22–26: Safeguarding the Nation’s Critical Infrastructure  

Our day-to-day life depends on the country’s 16 sectors of critical infrastructure, which supply food, water, financial services, public health, communications and power along with other networks and systems. A disruption to this system, which is operated via the internet, can have significant and even catastrophic consequences for our nation. Week 4 will emphasize the importance of securing our critical infrastructure and highlight the roles the public can play in keeping it safe. In addition, it will lead the transition into November’s Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, which is spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.