Do you know how to stay safe online? Take a look at some of the tools, statistics, and trends that can help you improve your cybersecurity awareness.
What Is Cybersecurity Awareness Month?
Each year, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA) lead a joint effort between the government and private sector to raise cybersecurity awareness throughout the country. As cyber threats continue to grow more sophisticated each year, it becomes increasingly important to have the tools and wherewithal to remain safe online.
See Yourself in Cyber
This October’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month campaign theme is “See Yourself in Cyber.” Although cybersecurity seems to be a complex topic on the surface, it’s important to remember that, at the end of the day, cybersecurity affects real people. Anyone who has access to the internet is subject to cyber attacks, security breaches, or data loss, all of which can massively affect people’s lives. That’s why you need to have the tools to protect yourself while online.
This month, CISA and NCA are highlighting four key, actionable steps that everyone online should take to protect themselves:
- Think Before You Click: Social engineering tactics like phishing are becoming more advanced, so keep a keen eye on any links that appear in your inbox. They could be an attempt to get you to reveal personal information or to install malware on your device.
- Update Your Software: Updates are rolled out regularly for a reason. They provide your device with up-to-date security protocols that defend against the most recent cyber threats. If you receive a notification to update your software, it’s best to act swiftly. You can also turn on automatic updates so you don’t forget to update your software in the future.
- Use Strong Passwords: Your password is the first line of defense against security breaches. It should be long, random, and unique for each of your accounts. You can use a password manager to both generate new, complex passwords and help you keep track of your current passwords.
- Enable Multi-factor Authentication: Multi-factor authentication is one of the best steps you can take to protect your accounts from security breaches. Security questions, face or fingerprint identification, and SMS verification are all examples of multi-factor authentication.
Are you ready to see how your business’ cybersecurity stacks up? We provide free security scans that can pinpoint your cybersecurity issues.
Key Cybersecurity Trends and Statistics
In order to protect yourself from cyber threats during this October’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month, you need to be aware of current trends and statistics within the industry. They provide you with the necessary context that informs you where the industry is going and how to maintain data security best practices down the line.
The total number of internet users continues to increase each year. With more people online, there are more potential victims for hackers and cybercriminals to exploit. New, inexperienced users don’t always have the tools or necessary cybersecurity protocol to defend themselves against these advanced threats.
As cyber threats become more elaborate and pervasive, even companies are becoming overwhelmed. About 42% of businesses report that cyber fatigue—being weary or averse to cybersecurity-related matters—prevents them from performing proper, proactive cyber defense.
Moreover, as more people work from home or in hybrid work environments, personal devices and cloud platforms are at an increased risk of being targeted and compromised by cybercriminals. Hackers can take advantage of unsecured devices within your network and breach your system.
Without the data to back it up, claims that cybersecurity awareness is a necessary part of our lives can lack salience. However, through numerous studies, reports, and hard data, it’s clear that maintaining cybersecurity best practices is paramount for the success of business as well as for the livelihood of individuals.
Here are a few key statistics that help contextualize the looming threat of cyber attacks and data breaches:
- 94% of malware is delivered by email, and 48% of malicious email attachments are Microsoft Office files. Without proper cybersecurity awareness training, it can be difficult for individuals to spot phishing attempts and suspicious links.
- The average ransomware payment in 2021 was $570,000. That’s a 518% increase from the year prior. Ransomware attacks can be devastating, especially for small businesses that might not have the bandwidth to deal with them effectively.
- 57% of organizations experience daily or weekly phishing attempts. These attacks account for more than 80% of security incidents.
More than 77% of organizations do not have an incident response plan.
- It’s estimated that hackers attack once every three seconds. Cyber attacks are seemingly unrelenting. Without the proper network security or training, businesses can easily fall prey to these nonstop, complex attacks.
A Few More IT Security Best Practices
Although October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, you should strive to maintain cybersecurity awareness throughout the year. The four methods highlighted by CISA and NCA are great first steps, but there are a few more techniques you can implement that will keep you even more secure.
Back Up Your Data
For individuals, large enterprises, and small businesses, cyber security can be greatly improved by backing up your data. Redundancy—having data stored in multiple locations to prevent complete data loss—protects you in the case of disaster. Power outages, natural disasters, security breaches, and malware can all put your data at risk, and having redundant failover servers lets you get back online if anything compromises your data.
Avoid Untrustworthy Sites
When you’re surfing the web, especially when you’re shopping online, it’s critical that you keep an eye out for the “https://” at the beginning of the URL. It stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, and it is a key signifier that the site you’re visiting uses encryption. This makes it difficult for malicious users to access your data.
Fun fact: Did you know that the double forward slash at the beginning of each URL was a mistake that never got fixed? It’s actually completely unnecessary!
Avoid Public Wifi and Consider Using a VPN
The internet can be a wonderful place to collaborate, innovate, and connect with friends and family. However, as discussed above, there is always the potential for malicious activity. One way you can mitigate online risk is by avoiding public wifi. Public wifi networks tend to have lackluster security protocols, which makes it easier for hackers to access your data. If you do connect to a public network, don’t:
- Access personal or financial information.
- Make online purchases.
- Stay signed into accounts. Once you’re finished using an application, sign out.
Using a VPN, or virtual private network, can also help protect sensitive data. VPNs encrypt and reroute your data, making it much more difficult for hackers to breach.
Partner With A Trusted Service Provider
One of the best ways to improve your cybersecurity is to partner with a reputable managed service provider like the Technology Response Team. With our industry expertise, we understand how to best protect you from the many threats that exist online. October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, but we’re here to help all year round. Contact us today to learn more about our services!