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National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), celebrated every October since its inception in 2004, was created as a collaborative effort between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) to raise awareness about the importance of cyber security and the shared responsibility citizens and businesses have to help secure the Internet.

We live in a world dominated by Internet connectivity. As individuals, we use it at home, in school, at work and on-the-go via mobile devices. Businesses rely on it and it has become central to the operations of most companies. As our lives become increasingly digitized through online financial transactions, electronic healthcare records, wearable devices and more, the security of those transactions and infrastructure that supports them becomes increasingly important. Complicating the cyber security landscape is the volume and velocity of the big data generated by these digital activities.

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) the number of incidents reported by federal agencies is up 762% over the past six years and about 15% over the past year alone. Additionally, Verizon recently released their Data Breach Investigations report which stated that 84% of compromises occur within hours with approximately 25% of those compromises occurring within minutes or seconds. Even more concerning is 70% of data exfiltration occurs within hours with 23% of the data being exfiltrated within minutes or seconds. Big data presents big security challenges to both commercial and federal agencies; NCSAM highlights the ways government, industry and individuals must all work together to secure the Internet.

Throughout the month of October, GovDataDownload will be featuring content touching on the topic of cyber security and NCSAM’s weekly themes:

Week 1 October 1-3: STOP. THINK. CONNECT.

Week 1 aims to raise online safety awareness among all Americans and reinforce STOP. THINK. CONNECT. And the simple measures everyone should take to be safer and more secure online.

Week 2 October 6-10: Secure Development of IT Products

Building security into information technology products is key to enhanced cybersecurity. Security is an essential element of software design, development, testing and maintenance. The software we use everyday on our phones, tablets, and computers may have vulnerabilities that can compromise our personal information and privacy. This week will target these stakeholders and educate others about what to do and look for in products.

Week 3: October 13-17: Critical Infrastructure and The Internet of Things

The Internet underlies nearly every facet of our daily lives and is the foundation for much of the critical infrastructure that keeps our nation running. The systems that support electricity, financial services, transportation, and communications are increasingly interconnected. The Internet of Things—the ability of objects and devices to transfer data—is changing the way we use technology. Week 3 highlights the importance of protecting critical infrastructure and properly securing all devices that are connected to the Internet.

Week 4: October 20-24: Cybersecurity for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses and Entrepreneurs

Small and medium-sized businesses are an important part of our nation’s economy, but they often do not see themselves as a target for a cyber attack. Strong cybersecurity practices are vital within these organizations. Entrepreneurs are recognizing the cybersecurity field as a burgeoning marketplace. This week will focus on what emerging and established businesses can do to protect their organization, customers and employees, as well as cybersecurity as a business opportunity using tools such as the DHS C3 Voluntary Program.

Week 5: October 27-31: Cybercrime and Law Enforcement

This week will help draw awareness to cybercrime and educate law enforcement officers about how to assist their communities in combating cybercrime and educate the general public with ways to protect themselves from becoming victims of identity theft, fraud, phishing and other crimes.

For more information and resources about NCSAM, visit the NCSA website and follow #NCSAM on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. And don’t forget to check back on GovDataDownload for more posts and resources throughout October.