National Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Do Your Part, #BeCyberSmart

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Throughout October, the importance of cybersecurity is highlighted and resources are made available to raise awareness of cyber threats and encourage individuals and organizations to adopt cybersecurity best practices and better protect accounts and sensitive data.

Cybersecurity Awareness Month was launched by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the United States Department of Homeland Security in 2004 to raise awareness of the importance of cybersecurity. Each year has a different theme, although the overall aim is the same – To empower individuals and the organizations they work for to improve cybersecurity and make it harder for hackers and scammers to succeed.

The month is focused on improving education about cybersecurity best practices, raising awareness of the digital threats to privacy, encouraging organizations and individuals to put stronger safeguards in place to protect sensitive data, and highlighting the importance of security awareness training.

This year has the overall theme – “Do Your Part, #BeCyberSmart” – and is focused on communicating the importance of everyone playing a role in cybersecurity and protecting systems and sensitive data from hackers and scammers. Throughout the month, the National Cyber Security Alliance and its partners will be running programs to raise awareness of specific aspects of cybersecurity, with each week of the month having a different theme.

  • Week of October 4 (Week 1): Be Cyber Smart.
  • Week of October 11 (Week 2): Fight the Phish!
  • Week of October 18 (Week 3): Explore. Experience. Share.
  • Week of October 25 (Week 4): Cybersecurity First

Cybersecurity Awareness month kicks off with the theme of “Be Cyber Smart” in week 1, where cybersecurity best practices are highlighted to protect the vast amounts of personal and business data that are stored on Internet-connected platforms.

“This evergreen theme encourages individuals and organizations to own their role in protecting their part of cyberspace, stressing personal accountability and the importance of taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity,” said the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Best practices being highlighted in week 1 are those that businesses and individuals should be implementing. They include always creating strong passwords, implementing multi-factor authentication on accounts, keeping software updated and patching promptly, and creating backups to ensure data can be recovered in the event of a ransomware attack or other destructive cyberattack.

“Since its inception, Cybersecurity Awareness Month has elevated the central role that cybersecurity plays in our national security and economy.  This Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we recommit to doing our part to secure and protect our internet-connected devices, technology, and networks from cyber threats at work, home, school, and anywhere else we connect online,” said, President Biden in a White House statement announcing the start of Cybersecurity Awareness Month. “I encourage all Americans to responsibly protect their sensitive data and improve their cybersecurity awareness by embracing this year’s theme: “Do Your Part.  Be Cyber Smart.”

Each week this month, HIPAA Journal will share information and resources based on the theme of the week that can be used to raise awareness of cybersecurity in your organization and improve your resilience to cyberattacks and privacy threats.

Be Cyber Smart – Your Role in Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity Basics – How to Secure Your Online Life

CISA – Cybersecurity Awareness Tip Sheets

Author: Steve Alder has many years of experience as a journalist, and comes from a background in market research. He is a specialist on legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA. Steve holds a B.Sc. from the University of Liverpool.