In the United States, October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and IBM is a corporate champion of the annual event, lending our name and support to this important effort. Cybersecurity is promoted in other countries as well during special weeks or months set aside each year to focus on resources the public needs to stay safer and more secure online.

Cybersecurity Ambassadors: Helping Towards a Safer Digital Society

IBM encourages our employees to participate in these awareness events and act as cybersecurity ambassadors with coworkers and in their communities to encourage safe computing habits. We tell our employees that individual actions have a collective impact. When each of us adopts safe computing practices and helps raise awareness among our coworkers and in our communities, we become a safer digital society, more resistant to attacks and more resilient if one occurs.

Whether you’re a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) or a consumer, we all face some of the same cybersecurity challenges as we embrace new technology and social media that enable us to connect instantly from anywhere at any time. Cyber criminals are also taking advantage of our greater connectivity and information sharing with more sophisticated, targeted and damaging attacks.

According to the recently released IBM X-Force 2013 Mid-Year Trend and Risk Report, 55% of scam and phishing incidents deceive users with emails that look like they come from Internet payment companies, social networks and scanners or faxes.

Individuals and corporations can be damaged by social media exploits. Attackers have learned to monetize social media vulnerabilities and a black market has cropped up to trade compromised and fabricated accounts on social media sites, according to the report.

What you can do to help

Get involved during Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October

As IT security leaders, we can leverage cybersecurity awareness events to reinforce best practices in our workplaces. At IBM, we have a month-long awareness campaign underway, in addition to our ongoing education and enablement programs. I want to also encourage you and your employees to serve as champions for cybersecurity in your communities.

A great way to learn is to teach. We encourage IBMers to lead a cybersecurity session at their local school or at a community event and we maintain a “Teach Security” wiki to help them do it.

Here are two resources that might help you:

  • The Stop.Think.Connect. site has some great educational materials, it’s sponsored by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG).
  • IBM also provides a Go social. Stay safe. Be smart. site offering tips on how to take advantage of social media without compromising security.

A recent study conducted for Stop.Think.Connect. revealed that consumers are concerned about their own personal online security and safety – and are ready to learn. They crave personal control and they seek information that’s actionable and easy to understand. Armed with this knowledge, we can all make more educated decisions about the places we visit online, the information we share, and the steps we should take in our workplaces and homes to protect our data, devices and networks.

So sometime this month, send a note to your team, let them know it’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and encourage them to pass it on and get involved by teaching security or reaching out to their families and communities.

Please share any other cybersecurity resources that you are aware of in the comments below.