2021 Cybersecurity Awareness Month Challenges Everyone to #BeCyberSmart

Each October, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Cybersecurity Alliance lead the cybersecurity community in an educational campaign around the impact of cybersecurity breaches and best practices to prevent them. Cybersecurity Awareness Month was created to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity among individual citizens and companies alike. As exemplified by the theme, "Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart," the campaign serves to remind us that everyone has a role in ensuring the security of data and systems.

Events, educational materials, videos, blogs, and more will be produced throughout the month by a variety of government entities, non-profits, and commercial organizations to illustrate this shared responsibility. To organize the vast amounts of information, the month is divided into themed weeks with a focus on the threat of phishing and a push to increase interest in cybersecurity careers:

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In Cyberspace Showdown, Government Has the Upper Hand on the “Bad Guys”

The annual Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) report was delivered to Congress in May and contained encouraging news. The report, tracking agencies' ability to meet the guidelines set forth in FISMA, showed that there were 8% fewer cybersecurity incidents across government in fiscal year 2019. Additionally, the report showed that 73 agencies meet the highest FISMA rating, up from 62 in 2018.

All of this improvement comes at a time when more attacks are being carried out against agencies and those attacks are becoming more and more sophisticated. The government's ability to stay ahead of the increasing attack vectors can be attributed to compliance with federal regulations and mandates including Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program and the National Cybersecurity Protection System.

Additionally, a focus on educating federal employees about spear phishing, the practice of sending emails that look like they are coming from a known or trusted sender to intice targeted individuals to reveal confidential information, has also paid off. The report showed that the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of Commerce had the largest reduction in phishing-related security incidents via email. Fittingly, the Department of Education earned a proverbial gold star, reporting zero phishing incidents. They attributed this success to employing "increasingly complex phishing scenarios" to improve spam filtering and implementing anti-phishing policies with their email provider. Continue reading