National Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2016

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Although it’s most commonly known to be a month full of goblins, ghouls, and cavity-inducing sweets, October has also been dubbed National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. So, in addition to Mom’s dressing up as mummies and kids dressing up like karate masters (that’s what they’re all going as this year, right?), an annual campaign has also been launched to raise the awareness surrounding cybersecurity.

Now, why the National Cybersecurity Awareness Month campaign and how might a thing such as cybersecurity affect everyone on all scales, both large and small, anyway? Well, as most of us have likely seen recently on the news there has been a great deal of turmoil surrounding leaked emails with respect to political figures and celebrities. But, cyber breaches don’t affect just those that are rich and/ or famous; cyberattacks target anybody and everybody. Are you feeling spooked yet? Read on, if you dare, to get in on all the creepy details

The fact is that last year alone, 594 million people worldwide were victims of online crime. While cybercrime affects millions every year, many consumers still do not act to protect themselves. Why? Great question! Honestly, many individuals do question how to more effectively protect their data. However, when it’s witnessed again and again that even the largest of organizations frequently fall victim to cyberattacks, it makes sense that cybersecurity would quickly become a daunting, almost seemingly impossible, task for the regular computer user.

Here’s another “fun fact:” A new study from researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) found that most computer users they interviewed experienced what is referred to as “security fatigue.” Security fatigue is a weariness of, or reluctance to, engagement in cybersecurity practices, which leads into risky behavior online.

The multidisciplinary team at NIST learned that the greater part of their average computer users felt overwhelmed and bombarded by security measures, were tired of being on constant alert, became exhausted with learning new safe behaviors, and frustrated with trying to understand the nuances of online security issues. In other words, the myriad of items that come along with keeping a network safe can be a wearisome and never-ending procedure. Researchers found that the result of weariness leads to feelings of resignation and loss of control.

The below of some of the comments that computer users provided to the researchers:

  • “I don’t pay any attention to those things anymore.”
  • “I get tired of remembering my username and passwords.”
  • “I never remember the PIN numbers, there are too many things for me to remember. It is frustrating to have to remember this useless information.”
  • “It also bothers me when I have to go through more additional security measures to access my things, or get locked out of my own account because I forgot as I accidentally typed in my password incorrectly.”

So, after updating a password for the umpteenth time, it’s not uncommon to hear someone report that they have chosen to resort to using one they know they’ll remember because they’ve used it before. Or worse, because they use it with every account. People also tell us often of giving up on completing online purchases because they just didn’t feel like creating a new account. If these sound familiar, know that they are prime examples of the “security fatigue” mentioned in the NIST study.

Participants also question why they would be targeted in a cyberattack. Computer users believed that they don’t have anything worth stealing. The data showed that many interviewees did not feel important enough for anyone to want to take their information, nor did they know anyone who had ever been hacked. One respondent said, “I don’t work for the State Department, and I am not sending sensitive information in an email. So, if you want to steal the message about [how] I made blueberry muffins over the weekend, then go ahead and steal that.” Well, that may be true, but if you dissect all the emails a single person has ever sent or received, surely you will have more than just a blueberry muffin recipe, right? Just think, have you ever used your email to sign up for a website’s mailing list?  Does any bank, credit card company, utility company, or doctor’s office send you email that may contain personal identifying information? That said, we are positive that, for just about everybody, there is probably either something of great value or something that is not for the general population to know.

Here are three simple ways the researchers recommended to help users maintain secure online habits and behavior:

  • Limit the number of security decisions users need to make
  • Make it simple for users to choose the right security action
  • Design for consistent decision making whenever possible

Here at Homecybersifu, we are working towards helping the home users overcome security fatigue. Our goal is to safely decrease the amount of security decisions needed to make by researching and providing recommendations with respect to cybersecurity. We aim to educate on what is important with respect to cybersecurity at home, so there is no need to worry when you hear those cybersecurity stories on your nightly news.

We currently have our store up and running with specific cybersecurity products that we believe helps home users make better security decisions when implementing cybersecurity in their home environment. It’s a great site to check often as we continually add to the list of products that we already have.

Okay, before we go back to making our totally kid-friendly ninja-star craft making hour (they’re for our totally rad ninja warrior costumes, hellooooo!), let’s see if we all can’t make National Cybersecurity Awareness Month like Daylight savings time. You know how it’s recommended that all home users check and replace batteries in their smoke detector to make sure they are in working order in case of emergencies? Well, we recommend a similar action be taken with respect to cybersecurity every October in honor of Cybersecurity Awareness month each year.  Backup all computer data and smart devices during Cybersecurity Awareness month every year from now on out. We recommend running backups using Acronis Backup software which makes an image of the computer and makes it easy to recover from a computer crash or compromise. There are other free means to back up data if you want to backup without making a purchase.

All in all, no matter which product you use, make sure that if a backup has never been performed before, or the time of the last backup is unknown, that a habit to start doing a backup is created during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

Christina Myers

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