by Shawn Burke

National Cyber Security Awareness Month has been observed every October since 2004, and while it is a worthwhile occasion, it may be time to think about making it a daily occurrence. Since January 1, 2016, more than 4,000 ransomware attacks have occurred daily (on average), according to the FBI. That’s a 300 percent increase from 2015, when a mere 1,000 attacks occurred daily.

To be sure, National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) has been a rousing success. Created as a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online, NCSAM has grown exponentially – reaching consumers, small and medium-sized businesses, corporations, educational institutions and young people across the nation.

But is once a year enough? From the beginning of 2017 to today, cyberattacks have hit at double the rate they occurred in 20161. Not only that, but their impact is widening; in 2015, more than 1.7 million personal records were exposed via 780 data security breaches2. In 2016, hackers raised the number of phishing type security attacks3 by 38 percent. Not only that, but they expanded their reach to devices beyond computer systems and networks; unsafe wireless medical devices, mobile devices, and cloud architectures all became victims last year.

Attacks and ransomware infections in 2017 such as WannaCry, the HBO hack, the Equifax theft and Dun & Bradstreet leak have created a virtual ‘Who’s Who’ of victims. The list keeps growing, and virtually every company feels like they are in the crosshairs of cyber criminals – with nowhere to turn.

Sadly, most data security breaches are the result of an error somewhere in the organization. Companies of all sizes are hacked due to exposures in their computer systems that are identified and taken advantage of by hackers. Unless organizations establish and follow cybersecurity “best practices” to protect themselves and their customers’ personal information, they will face loss of income and brand loyalty, not to mention growing liability and higher fines.

The worst part is that cybersecurity is constantly changing, which means it must be regularly evaluated to determine whether certain security measures are effective in addressing threats and risks. Only through diligent and consistent efforts can businesses rise to the challenge posed by hackers invading their computer systems.

With all this in mind, is it possible to stay ahead of the bad guys and stay safe in a global online world? Fortunately, yes.

The NCSAM slogan “STOP. THINK. CONNECT.” is about taking a moment to stop and think about the places we visit online, the information that we share and the communities in which we participate before and while we are connected to the Internet. From keeping your own device “clean” to protecting your personal information to connecting with care, NCSAM is a great reminder of the little things we can all do to take personal responsibility as safe cybercitizens.

Businesses need to create a culture of privacy at work by teaching all employees what privacy means to their organization, and clarifying the role they have in making sure privacy is achieved and maintained. CyberSecure My Business™ is a comprehensive national program led by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) to help businesses of all sizes learn to be safer and more secure online. As the cornerstone of the program, NCSA has translated the (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework into simpler language and incorporated it into an introductory-level, in-person, highly interactive workshop held on the second Tuesday of every month starting Oct. 10, 2017, from 2 to 3 p.m. EDT.

If you’re unsure how to move forward with a cybersecurity plan for your business, give us a call. Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS) has been protecting customers for more than 35 years, and can help you bolster your security posture.

No matter how safe you think you are, you’re never more than a double-click away from disaster. Learn how to protect yourself and your business not only during National Cyber Security Awareness Month, but every day.

1According to Hackmaggedon.com

2According to the ITRC Data Breach Reports

3According to “Key findings from the Global State of Information Security® Survey 2017” by PricewaterhouseCoopers

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