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Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Prioritizing American Safety and Security Online (Part 1)

This October marks the 18th Annual Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which is designed to bring industry, government agencies and academia together to raise awareness of cybercrimes and help educate users on how to be safe and secure online. 

The world is more connected than ever before because of the internet. However, as we increase the amount of information we share online, criminals are constantly looking for new ways to steal and use that data for illegal purposes and financial gain. Whether through ransomware attacks, online scams or tricking people into giving away sensitive information, cybercrimes are growing and can often leave victims feeling violated and financially crippled. In 2021 alone, the Internet Crime Complaint Center, led by the FBI, received 847,376 reported complaints last year with losses exceeding $6.9 billion — the highest annual totals yet recorded.

Technology companies are leading the efforts to address cyber risks. Google Safe Browsing helps protect devices every day by showing warnings to users when they attempt to navigate to dangerous sites or download dangerous files. It is investing billions toward expanding “zero-trust programs”, a framework in which all users are required to be authenticated, authorized and continuously validated, helping secure the software supply chain, and enhancing open source security. Google also created a $100 million new fund to help train Americans in areas such as IT support and data analytics. The investment reflects Google’s continued commitment to educating people in data privacy and security. 

Training is also part of Amazon’s new initiatives, including the public release of the security training materials to help individuals and businesses keep sensitive data safe from cyberattacks. Amazon Web Services account holders can receive a free multi factor authentication device to better protect AWS accounts from phishing, account hijacking, and other cyberattacks. Meanwhile, e-commerce sites like Ebay and Etsy have made close partnerships with law enforcement, a key pillar in their efforts to curb cyber crimes. Ebay also supports the Small Biz Cyber Planner, an online tool that allows small businesses to create a cybersecurity plan that best fits their needs and their business model. 

Companies are also using this month to highlight the simple steps users can take to better protect themselves. These include adopting multi-factor authentication, regularly updating passwords and regularly updating systems and software. Such efforts can go a long way to combat those that seek to make the internet dangerous.

Given the many, devastating cyberattacks on organizations and individuals this past year, cybersecurity should be top of mind for us all. Cybersecurity Awareness Month reminds us that the stakes are high, and only through continued vigilance—not just in October but throughout the year—can we create a more secure, interconnected world.