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January 01, 2020

October Is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

This October, Halloween ghosts and goblins aren’t the only scary things you should be thinking about. October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Cyber risks are frighteningly real, and everyone needs to be aware of the threats.   

Do Your Part

The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) have announced that the theme for this year’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month is “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.”

Cyber security is an issue for everyone, not just IT workers and computer security experts. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received 467,361 complaints in 2019. Individuals and businesses lost more than $3.5 billion due to cybercrime.

Cybersecurity is a major and costly problem, and we all need to work together to fight it. This means that everyone needs to be aware of the risks and practice good cybersecurity habits such as:

  • Creating strong passwords
  • Using secure networks
  • Installing anti-malware
  • Keeping programs updated
  • Encrypting sensitive data
  • Backing up important files regularly
  • Learning to identify and avoid common tricks used by cybercriminals

If You Connect It, Protect It

Another key point being emphasized this year is “If You Connect It, Protect It.”

The number of smart devices has surged in recent years, and this trend is expected to continue. According to Business Insider, there were about 8 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices in 2019. By 2027, that figure is expected to grow to 41 billion.

Because smart devices connect to the internet, they can be vulnerable to cyberattacks, but many people overlook the threat. CNBC has warned that smart home devices can be hacked. As more and more people work from home, home network security becomes a work issues as well as a personal issue.

Watch for Growing Threats

Cybercriminals use many tactics, from phishing schemes to malware, but ransomware and business email compromise (BEC) stand out as particularly pressing threats right now.

According to Insurance Thought Leadership, ransomware attacks are becoming more pernicious. A variant called Maze doesn’t just encrypt data; it threatens to release the stolen data to the public. Meanwhile, Ryuk, another ransomware variation causes complete network shutdowns.

The IC3 says that BEC schemes resulting in more than $1.7 billion in losses in 2019. In these schemes, emails that appear to come from an executive or legitimate business partner make requests, often for wire transfers. Some BEC schemes also aim to divert payroll funds, and the FBI says reports of this variation are becoming more common.

Get the Resources

CISA and NCSA are providing resources to help raise awareness of cybersecurity.

October is also a great time to meet with your Heffernan Insurance Brokers’ agent to review your cyber liability coverage and to verify if your coverage addresses your increased remote work exposures. Contact us for more information.

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