October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month
Each of Us Has a Role in Online Safety and Security
Connected devices are essential to our professional and personal lives, and criminals have gravitated to these platforms as well. Many common crimes—like theft, fraud, harassment, and abuse—are now carried out online, using new technologies and tactics. Others, like cyber intrusions and attacks on critical infrastructure, have emerged as our dependence on connected systems revealed new vulnerabilities.
Successfully mitigating these threats relies on a combination of information sharing, prevention efforts, and enforcement work. Government agencies, law enforcement, the private sector, and individuals all have a role to play.
National Cybersecurity Awareness Month was created in 2004 by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance to provide a reminder that each of us has the power to make the Internet safer and more secure.
“While the speed at which technology and information move can expose us to new risks online, it also enables a level of sharing and cooperation that can make us more resilient to cyber threats,” says FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director Matt Gorham. “National Cybersecurity Awareness Month isn’t just about understanding the risks, but also emphasizing our collective power to combat them.”
The FBI coordinates closely with the private sector as well as with state, local, and international partners to understand and anticipate cyber threats and pursue cyber criminals with every available resource.
Recently, the FBI’s work has resulted in the conviction of a cyber criminal who tried to access university databases to commit fraud and identity theft, charges against a North Korean regime-backed programmer, and 74 arrests in the United States and overseas of members of a transnational criminal network participating in business email compromise schemes.
“National Cybersecurity Awareness Month isn’t just about understanding the risks, but also emphasizing our collective power to combat them.”
Matt Gorham, assistant director, FBI Cyber Division
“Realistically, we know we can’t prevent every attack, or punish every hacker,” FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Boston Conference on Cyber Security earlier this year. “But we can build on our capabilities. We can strengthen our partnerships and our defenses. We can get better at exchanging information to identify the telltale signs that may help us link cyber criminals to their crimes. And we can impose a variety of costs on criminals who think they can hide in the shadows of cyber space. We can do these things—and we are.”
During National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, make it a point to learn more about what you can do to understand current cyber threats and support efforts to combat them.
Week 1: October 1–5
Make Your Home a Haven for Online Safety
- Parents can refer to the FBI’s tips on protecting children from risks online and off.
- Students can learn about online safety through the FBI’s Safe Online Surfing program.
- Computer users should also know how to stay safe online and understand how security risks extend to “smart” and “connected” appliances, speakers, and home systems.
Week 2: October 8–12
Millions of Rewarding Jobs: Educating for a Career in Cybersecurity
- The FBI partners with universities and other educational institutions with a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) focus to encourage students with these backgrounds to consider a career with the FBI.
- The FBI Honors Internship Program welcomes applications from undergraduate and graduate students who are studying engineering, information technology, science, and other fields.
Week 3: October 15–19
It’s Everyone’s Job to Ensure Online Safety at Work
- Business owners and employees should stay on top of current scams and threats that target businesses, such as business email compromise, payroll diversion, and ransomware.
- For businesses and individuals who are the victim of cyber crimes and scams, reporting is crucial. The FBI uses information gathered from victims to refer cases to the appropriate law enforcement agencies and identify trends. Anyone who is a victim of an Internet-enabled crime should file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
Week 4: October 22–26
Safeguarding the Nation’s Critical Infrastructure
- The FBI partners with several organizations (InfraGard, the Domestic Security Alliance Council, and the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance) to keep critical information safe from hackers and terrorists. InfraGard is open to U.S. citizens with ties to at least one of the nation’s designated critical infrastructure sectors, such as energy, agriculture, and health care.