Cybersecurity Tips Newsletter
October 12, 2023

Twenty Years of Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Twenty Years of Cybersecurity Awareness Month

We all play an integral role in creating and maintaining a secure cyber landscape. It is important for all of us to follow and share the message that staying safe online is easy. In support of this mission, New York Governor Kathy Hochul issued a proclamation officially designating this October as the 20th annual Cybersecurity Awareness Month. The New York State Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) invites all New Yorkers to join us in promoting safe and secure online spaces.

Twenty years ago, Cybersecurity Awareness Month started collaboratively under leadership from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA). At that time, cyberthreats were more simplistic and easier to address. Viruses and cyberattacks were fairly basic and typically blocked successfully by standard-issue antivirus software programs. Today, there are entire teams of threat actors working to steal your data. Data has been called “the new oil” because of how valuable it is to these groups and other stakeholders. When your data is breached through a cyberattack, the consequences can be dire, including stolen money and identity theft. According to a recent report from the NYS Comptroller, between 2016 and 2022, New York alone has seen a 53% increase in cybercrime.

In the cybersecurity landscape, where faceless threats are constantly present and AI-generated content can make users question reality, the human element is still of the utmost importance. While often thought of as a liability, it is crucial to think of the human user as an asset in detecting and preventing cybercrime.  Events such as Cybersecurity Awareness Month can greatly assist in reframing this discussion and educating the public on best practices. The only way to win the long fight against hacks, theft, and breaches is by working together, sharing knowledge and reinforcing good cyber hygiene.

Technology plays a fundamental role in our everyday lives as New Yorkers, and it is essential to stay informed and proactive about protecting personal information and sensitive data. Cybersecurity Awareness month provides us with an excellent opportunity to educate ourselves and others on how to stay safe online. This October’s focus is on four key behaviors: enabling multi-factor authentication, using strong passwords, updating software, and recognizing and reporting phishing.

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, and each one of us can contribute to a safer digital environment. By coming together as a community, we can raise awareness, empower individuals, and foster a culture of cyber resilience.