October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and this year marks the 10th anniversary of the event sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security in cooperation with the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center.
The month's goal is to call attention to the necessity for businesses and the general public to "create a safe, secure, and resilient cyber environment," the DHS said. This is especially pertinent as cyberthreats become more advanced and criminals create new ways to hack into secure networks and obtain corporate or personal information.
"Cyberspace is woven into the fabric of our daily lives and the world is more interconnected today than ever before. We enjoy the benefits and convenience that cyberspace provides as we shop from home online, bank using our smart phones and interact with friends from around the world through social networks," the DHS said on its website. "The Department of Homeland Security is committed to raising cybersecurity awareness across the nation and to working across all levels of government, the private sector and internationally to protect against and respond to cyber incidents."
The number of businesses that have experienced a data breach has increased, bringing to light the need for data privacy and security to protect against online identity theft. Consumers demand computer access to their bank accounts and are using smartphones and other mobile devices to access their personal information online. This has made the U.S. financial system more accessible to hackers, Bloomberg reported.
"The growing sophistication and frequency of cyberattacks is a cause for concern, not only because of the potential for disruption, but also because of the potential for destruction of the systems and information that support our banks," Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry said, according to Bloomberg.
Curry is also head of the interagency group the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, which created a cybersecurity group that is meeting with law-enforcement and intelligence officials to develop ways to defend the financial system against cyberattacks, Bloomberg reported.
Each week of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, local events are being held to educate the public and business leaders on different elements of cybersecurity. Week two, for instance, focuses on mobile security, while the third week focuses on educating the U.S. workforce to keep company data secure.
"Together, we can maintain a cyberspace that is safer and more resilient, and that remains a source of tremendous opportunity and growth for years to come," the DHS said.
Matt Cullina is chief executive officer of IDentity Theft 911.