The inception of Cybersecurity Awareness Month in 2004 came at a critical juncture in our technological history. As we are well and truly in the digital-first age, the need for robust cybersecurity measures is glaringly evident. Though significant, the early days' threats vastly differed from today's sophisticated cyberattacks. Cyber threats have evolved from poorly-written scam emails to state-sponsored attacks, ransomware onslaughts, and deepfake technologies.
As our reliance on digital infrastructure has expanded, so has the creativity and arrogance of cybercriminals. Personal and financial information, intellectual property, and even critical national infrastructure have all become attractive targets. This dynamic environment has necessitated a consistent evolution in our cybersecurity strategies.
Out with the Old, In with the New
In retrospect, past themes of Cybersecurity Awareness Months have always resonated with the pressing issues of their respective times. Themes such as "Our Shared Responsibility" and "Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT." emphasized collective action and individual accountability. They were rallying calls, urging everyone, from large corporations to individual users, to be stewards of their cyber safety.
This year's emphasis on four fundamental steps to safety is a testament to our evolving understanding of cybersecurity. While the threats have grown more complex, the foundation of strong cybersecurity remains rooted in a few effective practices. This confluence of past wisdom and current imperatives underscores the importance of the 20th anniversary of Cybersecurity Awareness Month. As we stand on the cusp of another digital revolution, with the proliferation of IoT devices and 5G networks, our responsibility to be cyber-aware has never been more paramount.
2023 Theme: It’s Easy to Stay Safe Online
This year, as we commemorate the 20th annual Cybersecurity Awareness Month, CISA introduces a renewed focus. With the official theme, It’s Easy to Stay Safe Online, the agency emphasizes four foundational steps every American should integrate into their daily digital interactions. These are not just actions to acknowledge during the month but crucial habits to be adopted year-round:
1. Implement Passwordless Strong Authentication
Strong authentication is crucial in enhancing cybersecurity. Instead of relying solely on traditional passwords, consider passwordless methods for added security. These methods eliminate the need for users to remember complex passwords and reduce the risk of password-related vulnerabilities. Passwordless authentication relies on alternative methods, such as biometrics, one-time passcodes, or smart cards, to verify a user's identity. These methods offer greater protection against cyber threats and can be more convenient for users. By adopting passwordless authentication, you can enhance security while simplifying the user experience.
2. Activate Multifactor Authentication (MFA):
Enabling MFA introduces an additional layer of security, significantly reducing the likelihood of unauthorized access. Prioritize activating MFA, particularly for essential platforms like email, financial portals, and social media accounts. When possible, utilize authentication apps or hardware tokens to bolster security further. For enhanced identity protection, especially against phishing attacks, consider deploying a phishing-resistant MFA solution, such as FIDO2.
3. Recognize & Report Phishing:
Phishing attempts, be it through emails, text messages, or calls, remain a key point of concern. Cultivate a cautious approach to unsolicited digital outreach and refrain from sharing sensitive details unless necessary. Familiarize yourself with common phishing hallmarks and promptly report any suspicious activity.
4. Update Software Regularly:
Contemporary cyber threats often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software. To counteract this, ensure your devices and applications are consistently updated. Maintaining current versions is crucial for optimal security, whether it's your operating system, antivirus tool, browser, or other software.
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In tandem with these essential actions, we bring an array of forthcoming blogs to deepen public understanding of contemporary cyber threats. Watch out for our in-depth discussions on Cybercrime as a Service, AI Scams, and the increasingly prevalent (and particularly nefarious) Vishing phenomena.
Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2023 reminds us to be aware and act decisively in safeguarding our digital footprint in an era where our lives are intricately intertwined with digital platforms. As we look forward to unveiling this year's theme, let's pledge to incorporate these four simple yet profound steps in our daily digital endeavors.
Follow Thales on LinkedIn throughout October to learn more about fortifying our digital future.