Cybersecurity Awareness Month - How Far We Have Come

In October we celebrate the annual observance of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). This annual event is brought about through the efforts of the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This year the weekly themes in October will be:

Week 1: October 3­7, 2016 – Every Day Steps Towards Online Safety with Stop.Think.Connect. Week 2: October 10­-14, 2016 – Cyber from the Break Room to the Board Room

Week 3: October 17­-21, 2016 – Recognizing and Combating Cybercrime

Week 4: October 24­-28, 2016 – Our Continuously Connected Lives: What’s Your ‘App’­titude? Week 5: October 31, 2016 – Building Resilience in Critical Infrastructure (https://www.dhs.gov/national­cyber­security­awareness­month)

Since 2004, October has been set aside as a time period in which Americans are encouraged to increase their awareness of the issues surrounding the security of their digital systems ­ cybersecurity. When NCSAM first began, computers had been in the mainstream of American culture for over a decade. By then the world wide web (www) had been created, 'Google' and 'Hotmail' were launched, 'Wikipedia' came into being and when the first NCSAM was observed, 'Facebook' had just started being utilized. What was lacking in those times of tumult and growth was a concern for cybersecurity. NCSAM, organized by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) sought to increase the public's awareness to the dangers that lax security could bring about. In 2004 the original focus of NCSAM was on the basics of cybersecurity such as ensuring that the virus protection on a digital system was updated on a regular basis.

Over time NCSAM has expanded its focus, gone mainstream and joined with others such as the DHS in promoting cybersecurity in organizations large and small. The schedule for October 2016 clearly indicates how far NCSAM has come in its mission of increasing awareness. Despite the changes and growth, the simple things should still be adhered to ­ updated virus protection, strong passwords and user vigilance.

Dr. Jane LeClair, President ­

Washington Center for Cybersecurity Research & Development

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