Many people on the web may still be unaware of the risks inherent in using online devices and browsing the internet. What about you? The 16th National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) is all about just that: raising awareness about the significance of cybersecurity.
More than half a billion personal users as well as countless businesses learn the cybersecurity lesson the hard way every year. And taking online security for granted has a steep price, indeed.
There are untold numbers of companies that store sensitive user data without proper protection. Ever heard of dozens of private hospitals hit by ransomware attacks? How about the more than three billion Yahoo accounts compromised in the largerst security breach ever (2016)?
Inexperienced users constantly open themselves to identity theft and fall for all kinds of online phishing scams.
Cybersecurity is our shared responsibility. And we at CyberNews take our share very seriously. This is why we’ve dedicated this post to the National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, as an attempt to spread the news far and wide.
NCSAM – the beginnings
The National Cybersecurity Awareness Month was recognized for the first time back in October 2003. The goal of NCSAM is to help people and businesses understand the risks they face in the digital realm. For the past sixteen years, this project has been a collaboration between the US Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance.
Over the years, the online risks we face have gotten exponentially more sophisticated and dangerous. While the battle against cyber threats may seem endless, it’s the certainly right cause to fight for.
The more aware companies and individuals become of cybersecurity risks, the more chance they have to protect themselves and their privacy. Still, almost 600 million people around the world are said to be affected by cybercrime every year. That’s why we believe this project needs much more attention.
The NCSAM goes international
The first pilot cybersecurity awareness month project took place all over Europe in 2012. This became known as the European Cybersecurity Month (ECSM). Similarly to NCSAM, this European event also focuses on a different topic each week of October. This year, it offers 206 activities across 23 countries.
The National Cybersecurity Awareness Month project has become more of a global event. You can find its counterparts across Asia and Africa as well – after all, cyber threats know no boundaries. We’re all affected by them, no matter where we are. As long as we have a device with an internet connection, we can (and probably will be) be exposed.
How to be safe online
The National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is divided into three key subjects:
· Own IT: Understanding your digital profile
· Secure IT: Securing your digital profile
· Protect IT: Maintaining your digital profile
Both organizations and individuals can participate in these programs and events. This includes following Twitter conversations and social media posts about cybersecurity throughout October. Raising your awareness on social media can help you defend against possible online dangers.
Cybersecurity as a shared responsibility
As for us, we’re also here to inform you about all the potential risks on the web. Without up-to-date knowledge of online threats, it’s increasingly difficult to protect yourself and your data.
If you have a look at cybersec statistics, you might be shocked to discover the incredible scope of cybercrime. This is exactly why we support the idea of the National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. It’s also our mission to spread valuable information on how you can use the digital highway as safely as possible.
The importance of cybersecurity awareness
At first, nobody thought that the web would become home to billions of web pages. The fact that the internet would turn into a channel for cybercriminals was also out of the question.
In 2019, billions of people of all ages use the internet daily. But are children, for example, educated and protected against violent, radical, weird, or simply age-inappropriate content? And, what about the rest, such as senior citizens, who may just be glad that they can see what their kids and grandkids are doing on Facebook or check some news sites? Do they know about online fraud, phishing and spam emails, malware infections, harmful third-party ads? Do they know how to protect their privacy online?
Most people only learn about cybersecurity risks when it’s already too late, and they’ve already become a victim. Raising awareness is all about informing individuals about certain safety tips, rules, and solutions. The National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is here to show them how to protect themselves from the unfortunate consequences of digital ignorance.
This is why the NCSAM is a great initiative. Hopefully, more and more people and organizations will learn how to protect their privacy. Since cybercriminals seem to always be one step ahead of cybersecurity experts, it’s essential to keep your knowledge up-to-date.
10 Common types of cybersecurity threats
Let’s take a look at some of the most widespread cybersecurity threats that you might encounter when online. This should give you an idea of why it’s so important to be prepared.
1. Spam emails
You can infect your device with a Trojan or a ransomware program simply by opening a spam email with a malicious link or attachment. This can lead to a variety of dire consequences – from killing your OS to getting sensitive data stolen.
2. Third-party ads
If you click on the wrong ad, your computer may get an infection directly, or you may be redirected to a malicious website. When opening such a website, you could be scammed to disclose your banking details or other sensitive personal information.
A botnet is a huge network of infected computers that hackers make use of for spamming campaigns, spreading all kinds of malware, as well as performing DDoS attacks – without your knowledge, of course.
4. DDoS attacks
Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks are about overloading a server or a website with requests coming from thousands of computers. This flooding happens quickly and forces the server to shut down and deny access to legitimate users.
Hacking is all about gaining unauthorized access to your computer or smartphone and the sensitive information stored on your device. Hackers can find weak spots in your security and take advantage of them to steal personally-identifiable and other sensitive data. These crooks can also install a keylogger to monitor your keystrokes and figure out your login details or other information.
6. Malware attacks
Clicking misleading pop-up and banner or visiting malicious websites can get you in serious trouble. Just a few clicks, and you can drop all kinds of malicious code onto your system without even realizing it. Such digital infections include spyware, Trojans, adware ransomware, browser hijackers, and other malicious programs. These threats can wreak all kinds of havoc, from simply slowing down your computer to assuming direct control of your device.
7. Phishing and spoofing
These two are related and often confused. These types of online threats are about luring you into giving up sensitive information. The attacks can take several forms:
· A fake email where the sender may seem to be someone from your contact list or an authority;
· A fake text message on Facebook or other accounts seemingly coming from a friend;
· A phony website that is posing as your legitimate online banking login page or any other trustworthy website.
Since you may not realize it’s not the real deal, you may disclose your credentials or other sensitive information.
8. Wifi eavesdropping
This usually happens when you connect to an unsecured public wifi hotspot, for example, at an airport, a café, or a library. The unprotected connection enables attackers to eavesdrop (or “read”) your online communications. What’s more, they might also gain access to your system and steal sensitive information (e.g., log-in details).
9. Exposure to undesired, violent, adult, and other inappropriate content
This mostly concerns children. Watching the wrong video on media streaming services like YouTube, as well as playing the wrong kinds of online games, may expose children to inappropriate material. This can cause psychological, behavioral, and developmental issues in the long run.
Use this wonderful opportunity to soak in the knowledge of professionals, who are constantly studying and devising strategies of how to cope with cyber threats. Sure, it’s not like the wild west of the late ’90s and early ’00s, but the stakes are a lot higher – there’s more sensitive data flying around and more people aiming to steal it. Make sure you’re one step ahead of the curve!