Besides Cookie Month,
it’s Cyber Security Awareness Month

2017 NCSAM Poster Revised 9.25.17- 508 compliant copyI AM REMISS. I allowed September to come and go without wishing anyone a happy Chicken Month. As long as I’m catching up, and despite my failure to send out greeting cards, I also hope you had a great Oatmeal Month in January and a happy Pig Day in March. And then there was International Beer Day in August. How on earth I missed that one is beyond me. I mean, it even has its own online countdown clock.

In my defense, every month and nearly every day commemorates something, so it can be easy to lose track.

The current month of October commemorates a couple of serious matters. It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which, each year, organizations such as the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation and the American Cancer Society do a good job of reminding us.

On a less serious note, it’s also Applejack Month, Cookie Month, Pizza Month, and, fittingly, Sarcasm Month. But here’s one I for sure don’t want to let slip by unnoticed:

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM).

The United States officially launched NCSAM in October of 2004, with a proclamation signed by President Barack Obama:

Cyber threats pose one of the gravest national security dangers the United States faces … Our commitment to maintaining an open, secure, and reliable cyberspace ensures the Internet will remain an engine for economic growth and a platform for the free exchange of ideas  … This month, we resolve to work together to meet this global challenge … I call upon the people of the United States to recognize the importance of cybersecurity and to observe this month with activities, events, and training that will enhance our national security and resilience.

The Department of Homeland Security website dedicates a page to NCSAM that provides a wealth of materials on self-protection, arranged by audience and by topic. There’s also a Phishing Awareness poster (above, right), weekly themes, and an invitation to join the campaign. Per its own description, the page is …

… designed to engage and educate public and private sector partners through events and initiatives to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity, provide them with tools and resources needed to stay safe online, and increase the resiliency of the Nation in the event of a cyber incident.

Though I encourage readers to check out the DHS NCSAM page, I tend to agree with author Dave Moore, who wrote in The Norman Transcript:

While things have improved over years past, if you are looking for information you can actually use to keep yourself, your family and your business safer, it’s hard for me to recommend the pooorly-organized Cyber Security Awareness Month section of the DHS website. While there is some good information there, it’s organized in such an oddball way as to drive away their potential audience.

Moore goes on to recommend a visit to the StaySafeOnline.org/ncsam website:

… Logical in its layout and comprehensive in its approach, there’s something here for everyone. I suggest taking a look at the Cyber Security Awareness Resources Library page and checking out the Future of Internet Security and Privacy video. It is very timely, especially in light of the recently-revealed hacks at Equifax and Yahoo. The Stay Safe Online section is good, too, full of good advice; check out the very timely Responding to Identity Theft and Managing Your Privacy articles. If I could choose only one Cyber Security Awareness Month-themed website, it would be this one.

Not surprisingly, IBM and other companies dealing in cyber safety products are helping promote NCSAM as well. Good. Their profit motive in no way lessens NCSAM’s importance.

I have posted before about the importance, in the financial services industry, of educating clients on the basics of cyber security. (For starters, see here, here, here, and here.) With the U.S. government, other nations, and other organizations taking on the topic throughout October, this might be a good time to hop on board. Financial institutions that haven’t already launched a full-blown campaign might consider an e-letter directing readers to some of the links above. Short of that, it’s not too soon to begin planning for next year.

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