Secure Our World: 4 Work-Related Security Best Practices for Cybersecurity Awareness Month
It’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and this year marks the 20th anniversary of the campaign.
Introducing “Secure Our World” as the central theme, the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA) is on a mission to promote behavioral change across the nation. In particular, they’re focusing on how individuals, families, and small to medium-sized businesses can secure our world by implementing four critical actions:
- Use strong passwords
- Turn on Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
- Recognize and report phishing
- Update software
These actions are just as critical to individuals and families as they are to employees and organizations. In honor of this year’s theme, “Secure Our World,” we are thinking through the best practices associated with each of these four critical actions to help organizations and individuals elevate their risk management strategies heading into 2024.
Use Strong Passwords
The first pillar of “Secure Our World” is using strong passwords. Weak passwords have been the cause of 81% of all security breaches, according to the 2021 Verizon data breach investigations report. Your password is your first line of defense against cyber threats; it’s a digital wall that protects your personal and sensitive information. Nevertheless, many people still opt for easily guessable passwords like “123456” or “password.”
A strong password is a complex one. It should be long, combining upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters. Creating a strong password might seem daunting, but it’s a small price to pay for the security of your online accounts. Password managers can be helpful for managing strong passwords across all of your applications and systems.
Turn on Multi-Factor Authentication
The second pillar of this year’s Cybersecurity Awareness campaign is to turn on Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). MFA is an additional layer of security that ensures only authorized users can access your accounts. It typically involves something you know (your password) and something you have (a mobile device or hardware token).
Enabling MFA significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access, even if someone has your password. Most online services now offer MFA options, and setting it up is usually a straightforward process. By doing this, you’re enhancing the security of your accounts and protecting your digital identity.
Recognize and report phishing
The third action encourages everyone to become more vigilant when it comes to recognizing and reporting phishing attempts. Phishing attempts are increasingly common: in 2023, it has been estimated that over 3.4 billion phishing emails are sent — every day! Phishing is a common tactic used by cybercriminals to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information or downloading malicious software. They often disguise themselves as trustworthy entities, such as banks, government agencies, or well-known companies.
It’s essential to be cautious when you receive unexpected emails, messages, or calls, especially if they ask for personal or financial information. If something feels off or too good to be true, it might be a phishing attempt. Learn to recognize the red flags and report any suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities or organizations.
The final critical action is to keep your software and systems up to date. Software updates are not just about adding new features; they also include important security patches. Cybercriminals are constantly searching for vulnerabilities in outdated software that they can exploit.
By regularly updating your operating systems, applications, and antivirus software, you ensure that you have the latest defenses against known vulnerabilities. Don’t procrastinate those update notifications – they’re your shield against potential cyber threats.
Expanding Risk Management Strategies During Cybersecurity Awareness Month
While individual actions to enhance cybersecurity are crucial, Cybersecurity Awareness Month isn’t just for personal awareness; it’s also an opportunity for IT and Risk departments to take a closer look at their risk management strategies. In today’s digital landscape, where threats are constantly evolving, businesses must adapt, refine, and expand their risk management approaches to stay secure.
For a process that you can continuously and constantly improve upon (and measure), you’ll need to bring in more people from your organization, constantly sharing new information as it becomes available, and staying agile with technology that can accommodate changes to laws and regulations while continuing to monitor against outside threats.
The Shift in Risk Management Mindset
The key to a successful risk management strategy involves a shift in mindset. Today, organizations must anticipate that threats are not a matter of “if” but “when,” and this understanding extends to every business, big or small. Successful risk management no longer relies solely on human vigilance and periodic assessments. Instead, strategic businesses are harnessing the power of cutting-edge technologies that are reshaping the risk management landscape. As the digital world becomes increasingly interconnected, the line between success and vulnerability hinges on a business’s ability to adapt. Embracing these advanced risk management technologies isn’t just a matter of choice; it’s a necessity.
Leveraging Technology for Effective Risk Management
Here are some key aspects to look for in technology that can help you enhance your risk management strategy – you want the ability to:
- Proactively identify and mitigate risk
- Continuous monitoring
- Quantify risks via a built-in simulation engine
- Report on new risk pattern
- Leverage cyber risk assessments
- Align regulatory frameworks for compliance
- Extend practices to third parties
Securing Our World Together
As we embrace the mission to “Secure Our World,” let’s remember that by securing our digital selves, we play a vital part in securing the broader digital ecosystem. Take action this month, and let’s work together to celebrate not just twenty years of raising awareness but also twenty years of progress toward a more secure and resilient digital future. Happy Cybersecurity Awareness Month!
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