What Is National Cyber Security Awareness Month?

Growing up I was obsessed with gadgets and technology. When I was preparing to start my first job after graduating college, my sister gave me an electronic address book. I remember tearing open the packaging and instantly entering every address and phone number I knew. The next week I proudly took my data-engorged electronic address book into work, only to have it stolen a few days later.NCSAM2015Blog

I’ll never forget how violated I felt as I realized the repercussions of this heinous crime. All the addresses, phone numbers and birthdays of my closest friends – and most of my family members – were now in the hands of a stranger. I hoped this thief just wanted a free electronic address book and not a pile of personal information. Still, because of my carelessness, the personal information of people I care about had been exposed.

Although it was decades before the huge corporate data breaches that now occur almost weekly, that day taught me an important lesson about cybersecurity and data theft. While not an online cybercrime, my loss of personal data – especially data about those closest to me – taught me that protecting your personal information and being proactive about cybersecurity is not just the responsibility of your IT department. Cybersecurity is the responsibility of each and every one of us.

So what is National Cyber Security Awareness Month?

National Cyber Security Awareness Month, also known as NCSAM, is promoted by IT security professionals and organizations across the country every October. A joint effort between businesses and government, the purpose of NCSAM is to ensure that every American has the resources needed to stay safer and more secure online.

Living in a world that is more connected than ever, the Internet is essential to almost every part of our lives. Data breaches are increasing in occurrence, magnitude and reach, threatening data from your Gmail and Netflix accounts to your banking and medical records. Just ask the 18 million military and federal employees whose personal data records, some including detailed background security clearance information, were stolen when the U.S. Office of Personnel Management was hacked in the spring of 2015.

You can see why NCSAM is important to businesses and government agencies alike. Designed to educate public and private sector organizations through events and initiatives, NCSAM’s goal is to raise cybersecurity awareness and increase the resiliency of the nation in the event of a cyber incident.

To raise awareness of core NCSAM issues, each week during October has a different cybersecurity theme. We encourage you to share and act on these cybersecurity messages throughout the month:

Week 1 – October 1-2 – General Cybersecurity Awareness
This year marks the fifth anniversary of NCSAM’s “Stop. Think. Connect.” campaign. Providing simple, actionable cybersecurity advice that anyone can understand and follow is NCSAM’s goal this week.

 Week 2 – October 5-9 – Create a Culture of Cybersecurity at Work
This week NCSAM focuses on the workplace and the common threats that businesses and employees are continually exposed to every day. Businesses and government agencies are encouraged to take a fresh look at their existing security plans and make them more secure and efficient.

Week 3 – October 12-16 – Connected Communities: Staying Protected While Always Connected
It can be a struggle to stay protected in our interconnected world. From social networking and downloading the hot new apps to shopping and banking, we live more of our lives online than ever before. How we access that digital world, especially when on the go, is more important to our cyber safety as well.

Week 4 – October 19-23 – Your Evolving Digital Life
Back in 1995, cybersecurity was more about how we connect as individuals to the Internet. In 2015 and beyond, cybersecurity will also be about how everything is connected to the Internet. From our cars to our refrigerators, the Internet of Things (IoT) is not just in our future. It is our present, and securing all the connected devices in your life will be a challenge.

Week 5 – October 26-30 – Building the Next Generation of Cyber Professionals
With all the headlines about cybersecurity, you would think there would be plenty of cybersecurity professionals around, but nothing could be further from the truth. Nearly one million cybersecurity jobs in the private and public sector are unfilled. The future will surely be bright for anyone entering the workforce who has studied cybersecurity, as in-demand IT security professionals demand the higher pay accompanying any under-filled job role.

As a designated NCSAM champion organization, Global Knowledge, along with our learning partners IBM, Cisco Systems, CompTIA, ISACA, Dell and Juniper Networks, will promote cybersecurity during the month of October with blog posts, white papers and webinars. During October, follow us on Twitter @GKonITSecurity and the #CyberAware hashtag for daily NCSAM updates.

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