October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) in the U.S., and IBM isn’t just a corporate champion of the annual event, but also a strong believer in the community forum of threat intelligence sharing as a means of security awareness. The Internet is a big place, and it is our shared responsibility to keep it safe for all users.

Today’s Cybersecurity Challenges

Today, 80 percent of cybercrime is committed by organized crime rings — people who work together in offices, with bosses, Monday through Friday. They buy and sell attack platforms, use analytics to target their attacks and collaborate with one another on best practices. All told, cybercriminals profited nearly $500 billion in the last year.

And with growing digital trends like mobile, cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT), there are simply more potential weaknesses for cybercriminals to exploit. Organizations need to stay vigilant with new threats constantly being released, and sharing collective knowledge with others is a great place to start.

Planning for the Future

As the avenues and methods that cybercriminals use grow, the number of professionals needed to counter the attacks is shrinking. One study by Frost and Sullivan, “The 2015 Global Information Security Workforce Study,” predicted a shortfall of 1.5 million trained cybersecurity professionals in the workforce by 2020.

But there are ways this skills gap can be closed. Two important initiatives will require:

  1. Organizations to attract a more diverse workforce; and
  2. Universities and educators to equip their students with modern training and tools.

With these actions, organizations can expand the potential pool of qualified hires and make sure these individuals are being trained in areas that need attention. Collaboration and ongoing security education must evolve and keep up with the ever-accelerating pace of cybercriminals.

How Everyone Can Participate in National Cyber Security Awareness Month

The National Cyber Security Alliance sponsors two websites, each with its own security awareness goals. The first, StaySafeOnline, provides educational content and communities for securing digital assets and cultivating a safer connected society. Then there’s Stop.Think.Connect., which has a partnership with the Anti-Phishing Working Group and helps users understand Internet risks and the importance of practicing safe online habits.

Businesses can share these tips and resources with their employees, who in turn can ensure they have higher levels of security awareness. That should lead to making better choices with regard to their online habits and even individual safety. In the end, we all need to understand that cybersecurity is our shared responsibility.

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