Cybersecurity Awareness Month is almost upon us! October calls for one of the most significant worldwide contributions to cybersecurity. 2021 marks the 18th year of its celebration, and ever since its inauguration, Cybersecurity Awareness Month has become a recognized event with exponential growth.
Instead of being limited to only specific cybersecurity professionals, the event is now actively recognized by consumers, small and medium-sized businesses, educational institutions, corporations, and even young cybersecurity enthusiasts!
But what is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and why is it observed with such enthusiasm?
What is Cybersecurity Awareness Month?
Cybersecurity Awareness Month appeared first as a national event in 2003. It was brought together to life by the joint efforts of the US Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance. The main motive behind the event was to spread awareness related to cybersecurity. This year, the event is even more important for the USA, in connection with its growing efforts to fortify cyber defenses.
Back in 2002, cybercrime was one of the most rising issues faced by America. Various surveys and TV reports highlighted several cybercrime incidents among speculations that most of these incidents also go unreported. Apart from that, these cybercrimes were also the reason for financial losses at the scale of millions of dollars. Amidst this, spreading awareness regarding the issue did become a massive area of concern for the government.
After 2003, the celebrated month soon took the attention of cybersecurity professionals and advocates worldwide. And now, every organization and institution celebrates the month with varied enthusiasm.
So who are the target audiences of Cybersecurity Awareness Month? Well, since cybersecurity is a matter that concerns everyone, the celebration of the month is not only meant for organizations. Individuals must participate in the event and join webinars or read articles published around the various themes of the month.
Since it is now a globalized event, it covers the participation of various industry participants that engage their customers, employees, and the general public. Apart from that, colleges and non-profit organizations also observe the event.
What are the goals and objectives of Cybersecurity Awareness Month?
When Cybersecurity Awareness Month first started, it focused on online security and privacy advice such as updating anti-virus software or keeping safe passwords. However, the month has now grown in reach and participation alike.
Despite being a rising problem, cybersecurity awareness is massively lacking even now. Therefore, the primary goal of celebrating Cybersecurity Awareness Month is to fight the issue with knowledge. However, there is more to it than what meets the eye. With the goal of spreading awareness and knowledge on cybersecurity, the events touch many aspects of online security and data privacy, such as:
- Working to build a robust cybersecurity workforce by raising public awareness and increasing engagement
- Highlight the demand and various opportunities in cybersecurity
- Increase awareness on several career opportunities for every kind of individual in the field of cybersecurity
- Increase awareness on the multiple pathways to enter the career circle of the cybersecurity field
- Showcase educational programs and resources that increase the participation of every individual irrespective of any differences.
Integrating such themes and motives within such a significant event is an initiative to spread cybersecurity and eradicate cyber threats.
What are the various themes of Cybersecurity Awareness Month?
Cybersecurity Awareness Month each year comes with varying themes that help focus on one issue. Usually, that issue is a rising matter of concern and quickly catches public attention. We have seen remarkably prominent Cybersecurity Awareness Month themes in the last years, each with knowledgeable content and successful awareness.
Between 2009 to 2018, the month followed the one theme of “Our Shared Responsibility.” The themes prompted the concept of cybersecurity as a combined effort. It highlighted how we as individuals, enterprises, organizations, or even employees play a role in cybersecurity. It helped spread awareness on how an enterprise to an individual netizen has a significant role in securing their digital assets.
The 2010 Cybersecurity Awareness Month event also featured the “STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Campaign” in the US. It was a national public awareness campaign and included safety tips and educational content in understanding cyber threats.
In recent times, we see a shift in the celebration of Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Instead of following one theme, we break the weeks into separate topics, a change that came in 2011. Since the month’s main motive was spreading awareness, the large-scale celebration was only possible with the integration of large audiences of various groups.
Stakeholders suggested articulating various other aspects of cybersecurity such as education, law enforcement, cybercrime, mobility, critical infrastructure, and small and medium-sized business. Since cybersecurity is everyone’s business, all should remain aware of their responsibility!
However, we still see the event revolving around recent cyber security problems. Such as within 2020, the theme was #BeCyberSmart with the critical message: “If you connect it, protect it.” The event aimed to empower individuals and organizations alike to recognize their role in protecting parts of cyberspace.
What is the theme for this year?
The year 2021 now calls for the 18th year of celebrating Cybersecurity Awareness Month! Mainly organized by the CISA and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), this year’s event continues the last year’s theme “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart”.
This classically timeless theme emphasizes how individuals play a crucial role in protecting cyberspace altogether. Whether organizations, educational institutions, or even mere individuals, everyone who connects to the internet is responsible for ensuring cyber safety.
Therefore, the event stressed the role of personal accountability and contained information on rising cybersecurity concerns such as phishing. Moreover, it also emphasized the importance of taking privacy measures to implement robust cybersecurity. The month covers various themes for reach week, such as:
- 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 25 (Week 4): Cybersecurity First.
Like every year, the first week of the events will contain the Official NCSAM Kick-off, which will most likely provide a comprehensive insight into the event’s expectations.
Apart from that, week 3 of the event will be dedicated to cybersecurity career awareness. It will highlight the career opportunities and the various means people can carve their pathways into entering the career realms of cybersecurity. Moreover, it will also promote educational programs by multiple institutions highlighting multiple career opportunities for every individual with diversity at its root. Everyone with a keen interest is welcome!
Safe cyberspace is only possible when all engage with cybersecurity. It is, therefore, crucial to take personal accountability in ensuring cybersecurity. With Cybersecurity Awareness Month right around the corner, now is the perfect time to engage yourself in learning and taking up your role in protecting cyberspace while keeping your information and assets secure!
We plan to celebrate it with zeal and zest, showing that Cybersecurity is everyone’s business! are you up for that too?