Cybersecurity Awareness Month has never been more important

As October marks Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and with cybercrime on the rise, increasing awareness around IT security is more essential than ever, says James Costanzo, Content Strategist at island.
As October marks Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and with cybercrime on the rise, increasing awareness around IT security is more essential than ever, says James Costanzo, Content Strategist at iland.

“Cybersecurity Awareness Month” started 18 years ago, but considering the events and trends of this year, its relevance is likely hitting individuals and organizations with newfound intensity. 

Cybersecurity Awareness Month began as a collaborative effort between U.S. government agencies and the technology industry to help people stay safe and more secure online. Back in 2004, its efforts centred around tips like updating antivirus software twice a year and changing batteries in smoke alarms during daylight savings time. Oh, how times have changed. 

When it’s all said and done, 2021 is likely to be the worst year on record for cybercrime. As the world continues to grapple with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and sudden increase in remote work, the headlines remain plastered with high-profile cyberattacks, like the ones earlier this year on SolarWinds and the Colonial PipelineAccording to Forbes, we’re witnessing more attacks across more industries with more data lost in breaches than ever recorded. The numbers paint a bleak picture. 

The state of cybercrime by the numbers

If it feels like cybercrime is becoming more and more prevalent, that’s because it is. Malware increased by 358% in 2020. Not to be outdone, ransomware kept pace as the fastest-growing type of cybercrime. The UK is one of the most targeted countries in the world has encountered 14.6 million ransomware attack attempts in the first half of 2021.

Making matters worse, the average cost of a data breach rose to £2.84 million. Meanwhile, 80% of senior IT and IT security leaders believe their organizations lack sufficient protection against cyberattacks. All totalled, cybercrime is expected to cost the world approximately £7.75 trillion annually by 2025.

That’s why this month, cybersecurity awareness must be taken seriously. Gone are the days of simply updating antivirus software. Even promoting good online hygiene — like maintaining strong, unique passwords and utilizing two-factor authentication — isn’t enough in terms of the IT protection your organization will need in 2021 and beyond.

There is no way to guarantee total immunity to potential data breaches for your organization. In recent years, some of the biggest companies and governments have fallen victim, despite best efforts. However, by planning, implementing, and testing an in-depth security strategy that is multi-layered, integrated, and ready, organizations can put up a formidable fight, while also drastically limiting the damage done by internal and external cyber threats.

“Do your part, be #cybersmart”

The gravity of this year’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month cannot be overstated. Even US President Joe Biden addressed it directly, issuing a proclamation on the “constant and ever-increasing threat from malicious cyber actors.” He went on to urge everyone to embrace the overarching theme of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, 2021: “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.”

The fact is, individuals and organizations must own their role in protecting their part of cyberspace. This Cybersecurity Awareness Month, make an effort to learn how to #BeCyberSmart and keep your data safe, available, and easy to restore no matter the circumstances. Start by watching this free, on-demand cybersecurity webinar, featuring some of the industry’s top experts.

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Amber Donovan-Stevens

Amber is a Content Editor at Top Business Tech

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