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A Month of Light in a Year of Darkness: Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Hear ye! Hear ye! October has once again returned, bringing along with it the frights and horrors of Halloween and wait, is that cybersecurity I see?

Last Friday marked the start of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and let’s just say 2021 does not need the help of Halloween to make it scarier. With the number of attacks and threats the world has faced from sophisticated cybercriminals, the theme for 2021’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month is “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart”. 

Since the pandemic began, people have been forced to adapt to new work environments and IT teams are stretched thin trying to protect larger attack surfaces. The responsibility of ensuring a cyber-secure environment falls on each and every individual with a digital footprint and this month will be focused on just that. It is unfair to place the burden of our cybersecurity in the hands of a specific group of people without taking the necessary measures ourselves. Cybersecurity must be a collaborative effort by the collective to work towards a safer digital landscape. In addition to the overall theme of the month, the National Cyber Security Alliance has set specific weekly focuses encompassing topics of “Be Cyber Smart”, “Fight the Phish”, “Cybersecurity Career Awareness” and “Cybersecurity First”. 

As the annual initiative is a result of the collaboration of government organisations and industries, many cybersecurity companies have advocated for and are actively pushing out solutions with the month in mind. In line with the theme of the second week, ESET has announced their interactive phishing derby to educate employees of organisations regarding the importance of cyber hygiene. NortonLifeLock, in its efforts to support the initiative, has advocated for proactive online safety by participating in talks and events throughout the month. The participation of many other organisations can be found on the National Cybersecurity Alliance website. 

Even TikTok, the video-sharing social media platform, is participating in this year’s initiative with educational videos posted on their account. Although the efforts for Cybersecurity Awareness Month are focused mainly in the US, organisations around the world have taken it upon themselves to participate as cybersecurity is a worldwide issue. 

Gary Sievers, Vice President of APJ Channel Sales & Alliances at Veritas Technologies comments, “This Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Veritas is warning organisations across the Asia-Pacific region against falling into the trap of thinking that security starts and ends with keeping the hackers out. In today’s threat landscape, it’s almost inevitable that malware will breach almost every organisation’s network. In spite of their security solutions, the average business has been the victim of 2.47 downtime-causing ransomware attacks in the last 12 months. Increasingly, what matters is how you contain the impact of a breach: How is access to systems and data limited? How are they backed up and air gapped? How do you get up and running again quickly? So, the ‘awareness’ that businesses need to have should be about both the strengths AND the weaknesses of their security posture, as well as the requirement to understand their protection needs, deep into their networks.”

The issues raised within Gary’s statement are very much true as it is not only important for us to have security plans in place to stop the attackers but also have clear backup strategies to be able to recover from such attacks. This month of concentration on cybersecurity should be utilised fully by organisations and individuals as the resources have been provided to educate them on the importance and ways to stay cyber secure. As we advance further into October, be sure to keep your eye out for interesting sessions and initiatives for Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2021.  

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