Every October the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCSA), a 501c(3) non-profit, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), an agency under the Department of Homeland Security, organize Cybersecurity Awareness Month! A topic near and dear to all our hearts here at adNET Technology Management, this annual initiative aims to ensure we all have the resources needed to be safe and secure while operating online.
For 2020, the theme is Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart. We all can, and should, take an active role in protecting our own little slice of cyberspace. Together we can all do our part to implement strong security practices, help raise awareness in our communities, and educate our friends, family, and co-workers to help make the connected world a safer place.
If You Connect It, Protect It
The distinction between our online and offline lives has become nearly imperceptible. Unless you've chosen to go completely off the grid, odds are you are surrounded by internet connected devices at work, at home, and while out and about. There are the obvious devices we use all the time - laptops, tablets, smart phones - things we all recognize as being computers. However, in recent years we've also seen an increase in a number of different connected devices that have been dubbed IoT devices, meaning the Internet of Things.
Some Interesting IoT Stats
The number of cellular Internet of Things (IoT) connections is expected to reach 3.5 billion in 2023 – increasing with an annual growth rate of 30% - according to telecommunications giant Ericsson
Gartner forecasts that by 2021 there will be 25 billion connected devices in use globally
In a 2019 survey by the Consumers International and Internet Society, 63% of respondents deemed their connected devices "creepy" in regards to their data collection
A 2018 report by NETSCOUT found that connected devices are under attack within 5 minutes of being connected to the internet and start getting targeted by specific exploits within 24 hours
These devices include otherwise innocuous items like thermometers or refrigerators, but just because those devices were built to do one simple task doesn't mean someone hasn't figured out a way to make them do something else, undoubtedly while working hard to remain undetected. If they are running code and connected to the internet, odds are they can be turned into a potential risk to your network.
What We Can All Do
Some of the best defenses against security breaches aren't even technical, they're user-centric, which is especially helpful when you're not at the office with your IT staff watching over things. Remember to avoid questionable sites and content online, don't open email attachments or click on links from people you don't know, and don't download files or programs without knowing what you're actually getting.
Next week we'll touch on more in-depth steps you can take to secure your devices, until then we recommend spreading the word about Cybersecurity Awareness Month and check out staysafeonline.org for more tips and resources!