National Cybersecurity Awareness Month – Can We Get a Little Self-Reflection, Please?

Morey Haber, October 2nd, 2017

Cybersecurity Awareness Month

As we begin October, we are reminded by the US Department of Homeland Security that it is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. It’s really surprising to me, though, that the US government would even *need* to run a marketing campaign to highlight the cyber tragedies we see in the news every day. After all, if you have not heard of attacks like WannaCry or Petya, just think of household names like FedEx, Maersk, Deloitte, Equifax, and Sony – they have all been victims of recent cybersecurity breaches.

Brands like these are a part of our everyday lives, but the risks they face are the same threats we endure every day at work, and at home. No one, anywhere, is immune to the effects of phishing attacks, social engineering, and missing security patches that can be exploited. In fact, many businesses do not manage these threats well, and if corporations are failing at basic cyber security hygiene, odds are you are probably failing at home as well.

As a part of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, it is not just about what we are doing wrong, it is also about changes we need to make to our technology and even our personalities in order to avoid future threats.

Changing Bad Habits

One of the considerations we need to make is that our own (bad) habits that have caused some of the “rabbit hole” of threats. To illustrate, let me share with you a recent study on privileged access management conducted by BeyondTrust. The results speak directly to the risks of having usernames and passwords that can lead a hacker to compromise our computers and data. What the study identified was not revolutionary. Cyber security professionals have provided statistics about password changes, types of passwords, and password reuse for years.

What the study did find directly translates to cyber security awareness – specifically, why individuals, even with the knowledge of these flaws and risks, continue to execute the same behavior. This was eye opening. Human traits like Apathy, Greed, Pride, Ignorance, and Envy are helping fuel many of the breaches and why so many people are dealing with malware, identity theft, skimmers, and other types of scams and fraud.

A Little Self-Reflection, Please

So, for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month we must educate about the statistics. We must be aware of how and why breaches happened. We must educate on how to prevent the next potential breaches. And most importantly, we must do some self-reflection and understand why we continue the same poor behavior even though we understand the risks.

The biggest difference we as practitioners can make this month is to put the risks in plain English, back them up with facts, and make a compelling argument.

For more on what we uncovered in our study, the 5 Deadly Sins of Privileged Access Management, download the results today. Use that study to compare where your current cyber practices are at, and what you need to do to get better.