October Is Cybersecurity Awareness Month – It’s a Good Time for a Security Checkup
This month is the 19th Annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month in the United States, cosponsored by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) and the National Cybersecurity Alliance. This year’s campaign theme is “See Yourself in Cyber,” focusing on the people part of cybersecurity. CISA notes “while cybersecurity may seem like a complex subject, ultimately, it’s really all about people.” It’s an appropriate theme in today’s threat environment where it has been widely reported that about 85% of security incidents involve a human element.
The focus areas for this year’s campaign include (1) recognizing and reporting phishing, (2) understanding the benefits of using a password manager, (3) enabling multi-factor authentication, and (4) installing updates on a regular basis and turning on automated updates.
For businesses and organizations with established cybersecurity programs, it’s a good time to review and update them. For those without one, it’s a good time to start the process and follow through to implement a comprehensive cybersecurity program. Include this year’s focus areas and appropriate attention to the people parts of the program.
Cybersecurity is a process to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information. Comprehensive security should address people, policies and procedures, and technology. While technology is a critical component of effective security, the other aspects also are critical and should be addressed.
Cybersecurity is best viewed as a part of the information governance process, which manages documents and data from creation to final disposition. Managing and minimizing data is an essential part of information governance, including security, privacy, and records and information management.
Security starts with an inventory of information assets and data to determine what needs to be protected and then a risk assessment to identify anticipated threats to the assets and data. The next steps are the development, implementation, and maintenance of a comprehensive cybersecurity program to employ reasonable physical, administrative, and technical safeguards to protect against identified risks. A cybersecurity program should cover the core security functions: identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover. Programs covering these elements are frequently required by laws, regulations, and contracts for covered industries, protected information, or both.
Comprehensive cybersecurity programs are often based on standards and frameworks like the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, Version 1.1, (April 2018), more comprehensive standards, including NIST Special Publication 800-53, Revision 5, Security and Privacy Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations (September 2020) and standards referenced in it, and the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO), ISO/IEC 27000 family of standards, (consensus international standards for comprehensive Information Security Management Systems (ISMS).
These standards can be a challenge for small and mid-size businesses. CISA has a website with Resources for Small and Midsize Businesses. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintains a website, Cybersecurity for Small Business (a joint project of the FTC, NIST, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security). NIST also maintains a Small Business Cybersecurity Corner website.
Businesses and organizations with cybersecurity programs should periodically review, evaluate, and update their programs. The review and evaluation should address areas like new or changed hardware, software, and business processes, changes in personnel or job functions, supply chain changes, lessons from any security incidents, and updated threat information. Those without programs should assign responsibility and adopt a plan and schedule for developing and implementing one.
Every user from the newest hire to senior management has a role in effective cybersecurity. Training is a critical part of a cybersecurity program. The goal should be to promote constant security awareness, by every user, every day, every time they’re using technology. Users should be aware of current threats and how to protect against them; know what to do if there’s an incident; and know how to get answers to questions. This Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a good time for a refresher, followed by periodic repetition.
If you have questions about the content of this alert, please contact David Ries (email@example.com; 412.394.7787), Jeffrey Wells (firstname.lastname@example.org; 202.640.6682), or another member of Clark Hill’s Cybersecurity, Data Protection, and Privacy Group.
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