Every October, there is an important event in the world of cybersecurity in Australia – it’s called National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). This annual awareness month is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and promoting online safety across individuals and organisations.
The main objective of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is to educate and equip people with the knowledge and resources they need to stay safe online and protect themselves from cyber threats.
What is the theme for Cyber Security Month 2023?
The theme for Awareness Month 2023 is ‘Be cyber wise – don’t compromise’. cyber.gov.au highlights 4 simple steps to be cyber-wise and protect your digital assets. These steps are:
Update your devices regularly
You should regularly update your operating system, software, and applications. Updates often contain security patches that fix vulnerabilities. Updates ensure compatibility with new hardware or other software, preventing potential conflicts. You should enable automatic updates whenever possible to ensure you’re always running the latest, most secure versions.
Turn on multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security by requiring two or more forms of authentication, such as a password and a one-time code sent to your phone. You should enable MFA on your email, social media, and financial accounts to safeguard them from unauthorised access.
Back up your important files
You should regularly back up your data to an external drive or a cloud service. This can protect you from data loss due to hardware failure, theft, or malware. You should also make sure your backups are automated and set up to occur at regular intervals.
Use passphrases and password managers
A passphrase is a longer, more complex version of a password. You should use a combination of words, numbers, and symbols to create a strong passphrase. You should also consider using a password manager to securely store and generate complex passwords and passphrases for all your accounts. This helps you avoid using the same password across multiple sites.
Why is it important to have an awareness month dedicated to cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity has become an integral part of our daily lives. From small businesses to large organisations, everyone is vulnerable to cyber-attacks. With the increasing reliance on digital technologies, educating people about the potential risks and vulnerabilities associated with online activities is crucial.
The latest Annual Threat Report conducted by the ACSC found that during the 2021-22 financial year, one cybercrime was reported to us every 7 minutes, a 13% increase from the previous financial year.
Having a dedicated awareness month helps highlight the increasing amount of threats and the significance of adopting safe online practices and staying vigilant against cyber threats to be safer and more secure online. Many people may not fully understand the extent of cybersecurity threats and the potential consequences of cyberattacks. This month helps educate the general public about the importance of online security.
It also provides a platform to share knowledge, best practices, and resources to better protect individuals, organisations, and the overall digital infrastructure, such as educational materials and organising a webinar and workshops. It provides an opportunity to reinforce key messages like using strong, unique passwords, enabling multi-factor authentication, and staying vigilant against phishing attacks.
Every year, as the digital world grows, new cybersecurity threats and trends emerge. This month also allows experts to spotlight the latest threats and vulnerabilities and help to ensure that all individuals and organisations stay informed about evolving risks. Dedicating an entire month to cybersecurity helps build a culture of security where individuals and organisations prioritise cybersecurity and infrastructure security as an integral part of their daily routines and operations.
What are some common cyber threats to be aware of?
When it comes to cybersecurity, it is crucial to be aware of the different types of cyber threats. Here are some common security threats as per the ACSC:
Malware: Different types of malware include viruses, worms, Trojans, and spyware designed to compromise systems, steal data, or enable unauthorised access.
Ransomware: Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts a victim’s files and demands a ransom for the decryption key. It can disrupt operations and lead to data loss.
Identity Theft: Identity theft occurs when an attacker gains access to an individual’s personal information to impersonate that individual. This can result in financial loss, damage to one’s reputation, and unauthorised access to accounts or services in the victim’s name.
Hacking: It involves unauthorised access to computer systems, networks, or devices with malicious intent. Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities, gain control, or steal data.
Data breaches: Data breaches occur when sensitive or confidential data is accessed, stolen, or exposed without authorisation.
Business email compromise: This involves attackers impersonating trusted executives or colleagues to manipulate employees into transferring money or sensitive information.
Scams: Scams involve fraudulent schemes that trick individuals into giving away money, personal information, or sensitive data. Common scams include phishing, lottery scams, and tech support scams.
System and network attacks: System and network attacks encompass a wide range of malicious activities, including denial of service (DoS) attacks, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, and malware infections.
How can I stay safe online during Cybersecurity Awareness Month?
Understand the importance of strong passwords
One of the fundamental aspects of online security is using strong and unique passwords for all your online accounts. A strong password consists of a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoiding easily guessable passwords and regularly updating them for effective security is essential.
Update Your Software and Devices
Another aspect of online security is to ensure that your operating system, software, apps, and antivirus programs are up to date with the latest security patches and updates.
Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Enable MFA on your critical accounts, such as email, social media, and financial platforms, to stay secure online. This adds an extra layer of security.
Learn how to recognise and report phishing attempts
Phishing is a common method used by cyber criminals to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card details, through deceptive emails or websites. Learning how to recognise phishing attempts and report them to the appropriate authorities is crucial to prevent falling victim to such scams.
Report Suspicious Activity
If you encounter suspicious online activity or believe you’ve been a victim of a cybercrime, you should take action and report it to the appropriate authorities or organisations.
It’s worth mentioning that these safety-conscious activities are worth engaging in beyond just the awareness month. By eagerly participating in them, you can significantly reduce potential hazards and ensure your safety all year round.
What resources are available to improve your cyber security?
Many government agencies, such as the Australian Cyber Security Center (ACSC), provide educational resources and guidance on cybersecurity best practices.
Cybersecurity toolkit for valuable tips and tools
The cybersecurity toolkit provides a comprehensive collection of resources, including best practices, checklists, and educational materials to enhance knowledge and improve cyber defence capabilities. It covers various aspects of cybersecurity, from securing your devices to protecting your personal information online.
Online Forums and Communities
Join cybersecurity forums and communities like Stack Overflow, Reddit’s /r/cybersecurity, and specialised forums like Hack Forums to ask questions, share knowledge, and stay updated on the latest threats and defences in the digital world.
Why is it essential to protect yourself online?
In today’s digital age, our reliance on technology exposes us to various risks and effects. Cybercriminals can exploit vulnerabilities in our online behaviour to gain unauthorised access to your personal information, leading to identity theft, financial loss, and other serious repercussions.
Using devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets without proper security measures can make you an easy target for cyber attacks. You can significantly reduce the risk of being compromised by implementing effective strategies such as keeping your operating systems updated, using antivirus software, and being cautious while downloading apps or clicking suspicious links.
How can individuals and organisations participate in this awareness month?
There are several ways individuals and organisations can actively participate in National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2023. Firstly, they can organise or attend webinars and workshops focused on cybersecurity. These sessions provide valuable insights and practical tips for staying safe online.
Secondly, they can access and utilise cybersecurity toolkits provided by the ACSC. These toolkits contain a wealth of resources, such as infographics, videos, and social media content that the cybersecurity industry can share to raise awareness.
Additionally, individuals can take small steps like creating strong passwords, recognising phishing attempts, and regularly updating their software to enhance their personal cybersecurity posture. Organisations can also organise awareness programs and training sessions for their employees to strengthen their information security practices.
What are the benefits of getting involved in National Cyber Security Awareness Month?
Getting involved in National Cyber Security Awareness Month offers several benefits. Firstly, it allows individuals and organisations to stay updated with the latest trends and best practices in cybersecurity.
Secondly, it provides an opportunity to network and collaborate with like-minded individuals and organisations who share the same vision of creating a secure cyber environment.
It allows participants to actively contribute to raising awareness and promoting online safety, positively impacting the digital community.
Lastly, engaging with schools, businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies to promote cybersecurity awareness and education to be safe and secure in the digital world is also a huge opportunity.
In conclusion, National Cyber Security Awareness Month is not just a yearly event but a vital reminder of the ongoing need for vigilance in our digital lives. Cybersecurity is not merely the responsibility of experts and organisations; it’s a shared responsibility that extends to everyone.
By actively participating in this awareness month, we can equip ourselves with the knowledge and tools to play a part in making the digital world safer. Whether it’s updating software, using strong passwords, or recognising phishing attempts, every action contributes to a more secure online environment. Even the small actions you take to protect your devices and accounts can make a huge difference in the protection of your personal data.
As we reflect on the importance of cybersecurity during this month, we encourage you to take action. Evaluate your online practices, educate your peers, and promote a cyber-wide community. And if you’re seeking expert guidance and solutions to enhance your cybersecurity posture, Binary IT is here to assist you on your journey towards a safer digital landscape.