National Cybersecurity Awareness Month a time for review future planning

Posted on Oct 14, 2015

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, observed in October, is a straightforward concept: The event encourages businesses, government agencies and other organizations to pay more attention to cyber defense and intelligence-gathering efforts. The potential difficulty during the event isn't raising basic awareness among business leaders so much as finding ways to make positive and meaningful changes and additions to current cybersecurity measures. Here's a look at a few ways businesses and organizations in many different industries can improve their cybersecurity efforts:

For federal agencies: Prepare for new guidelines
One of the most promising recent cybersecurity advances in the public sector is a commitment made by Tony Scott, the U.S. Chief Information Officer, to release a new plan for improving protections of federal digital assets from hacks and other breaches. Government and technology news site NextGov said Scott's plan for boosting cybersecurity efforts will include changes to both process and policy for protection and post-incident response.

While the regulations aren't yet known, there's plenty of preemptive action to take in terms of change management and preparing both staff and resources for significant changes. Getting a head start on Scott's new plan can lead to more effective implementation and fewer issues with adoption and compliance.

"Businesses can't overstate the value of effective cybersecurity technology and staff."

For all organizations: Long-term talent pipeline development
One of the biggest issues in the current cybersecurity landscape is a lack of staff and consultants with applicable education and experience. There are plenty of cyberdefense veterans and newly minted graduates entering the workforce, but demand is outstripping supply in many parts of the country. Businesses can't overstate the value of effective information technology and cybersecurity staff in the current climate. National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is an especially appropriate time to assess how your business recruits staff for this very important area of operations, as well as determine the effectiveness of compensation and benefit packages to keep talented employees on staff.

For all organizations: Encourage employee awareness
The awareness aspect in National Cybersecurity Awareness Month shouldn't be overlooked. One of the most important aspects of a successful cybersecurity plan is employee comprehension. When staff understand the biggest risks related to their daily duties and any special assignments, they're less likely to engage in risky behaviors and potentially expose the organization to a breach. There are plenty of differences and unique circumstances to account for on the individual business level, so identifying problem areas and creating a plan to raise awareness is a more effective approach than simply instructing staff to be more careful.

For all organizations: Improve defense and countermeasures
While recruiting and retaining cybersecurity staff and improving employee awareness are involved processes dependent on people, one area that can be addressed more immediately is technological defense and countermeasures. Selecting a new or more robust system for protecting a company's digital assets doesn't have to be a long or particularly drawn-out process. National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is an especially appropriate time to consider more effective tools and platforms for protecting a company and its resources from breaches and other types of cybercrime.

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