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Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Staying Secure from Threats

By Glynn Cosker
Edge Contributor

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month – an initiative created to raise our nation’s knowledge of the vital role that cybersecurity plays in keeping Americans safe and secure online. We will provide content related to cybersecurity all month long – including articles and podcasts from experts in the field with a focus on assessing and securing data privacy, narrowing the diversity divide within cybersecurity, and other related topics.

Cybersecurity Is No Longer Optional

In the early days of the digital age, cybersecurity was an optional part of a company’s infrastructure or an individual’s home office setup. Today, it is no longer optional, and deploying robust measures for cybersecurity is essential.

For example, ransomware has been getting worse for some time. Ransomware is a data-encrypting program that demands payment to release data that is held hostage.

A recent survey from Sophos showed that 51% of businesses in the United States were hit by some form of ransomware in 2020, with an average ransom demand of $178,000. According to the survey, approximately 25% of the victims chose to pay the ransom. 

Here are some other statistics that illustrate the need for strong cybersecurity:

  1. Worldwide spending on cybersecurity is going to reach $133.7 billion in 2022.
  2. 68% of business leaders feel their cybersecurity risks are increasing.
  3. Data breaches exposed 4.1 billion records in the first half of 2019.
  4. 71% of breaches were financially motivated, and 25% were motivated by espionage.
  5. 52% of breaches featured hacking, 28% involved malware, and 32–33% included phishing or social engineering, respectively.
  6. On average, only 5% of companies’ folders are properly protected. 

Do Your Part – #BeCyberSmart

The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) promote Cybersecurity Awareness Month with: “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.”

According to CISA, the “theme encourages individuals and organizations to own their role in protecting their part of cyberspace, stressing personal accountability and the importance of taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity.”

RELATED: Podcast – What Does it Mean to be a Cybersecurity Professional?

In 2021, CISA and NCSA have broken out each week of Cybersecurity Awareness Month to focus on various aspects:

  • Week of October 4 (Week 1): Be Cyber Smart.
  • Week of October 11 (Week 2): Phight the Phish!
  • Week of October 18 (Week 3): Explore. Experience. Share. 
  • Week of October 25 (Week 4): Cybersecurity First

Cybersecurity Job Growth Continues

Cybersecurity professionals are needed across all government sectors. Earlier this year, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced his agency’s largest cybersecurity hiring initiative in its history. Mayorkas stated, “As cybersecurity threats to our communities continue to rise, we must recruit and retain diverse top talent to defend against today’s threats and build a more resilient future.”

The cybersecurity industry has grown exponentially in recent years, The industry will experience job growth of 31% between now and 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Depending on the study that you look at, there’s close to a little over 500,000 jobs in the U.S. alone, particularly in the cybersecurity field, that are vacant right now,” stated Dr. Kevin Harris, the University’s Program Director of cybersecurity, information systems security and information technology. Dr. Harris noted, “Worldwide, there are more than 3 million cybersecurity job openings.”

The Center for Cyber Defense

The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have designated American Public University System as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE). The Center for Cyber Defense (CCD), organized under the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), is designed to foster cybersecurity awareness across the various disciplines.

The CCD’s mission “is to provide program guidance and oversight, cyber defense information, collaboration, research, and outreach opportunities for students, faculty, and other organizations.”

The CCD supports education in various disciplines, including engineering, space policy and science – along with national and global security. The CCD helps shape cybersecurity education through contribution to curricula and faculty development and serves as a portal for cyber defense education to build future generations of cybersecurity professionals.

The CCD is supported by cybersecurity faculty members from across the University. An industry advisory council (IAC) meets regularly to provide oversight and guidance.

Our Various Cybersecurity Degree and Certificate Programs

We offer various education options for those wishing to enter the field of cybersecurity including an online bachelor of science in cybersecurity and an online master of science in cybersecurity. Other education options include with an undergraduate certificate in cybersecurity and a graduate certificate in cybercrime.

“The world is an ever-changing environment where new threats are emerging daily,” says AMU alumnus Bradley Deacon, who recently attained his cybercrime graduate certificate. “AMU assists me in staying ahead of the game, and I enjoy being able to mentor up-and-coming cyber professionals to help them to achieve their dreams while also contributing to making the world a better place to live.”

RELATED: Podcast – Preparing for An Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)

Another alumnus, Bryan Mogaru, put it this way: “I grew up wanting to fight the bad guys. With my education now, I know how they think. I’ll be able to catch the bad guys. I see myself making a difference in the world.” Mogaru earned his master of science degree in cybersecurity studies from American Public University (APU) – AMU’s sister university.

Additionally, AMU recently created a free digital cybersecurity magazine Preventing a Cyberattack: A Guide to Cyber Readiness to assist business leaders in enhancing their cybersecurity measures.

In this video, AMU graduate Max Aulakh explains how he wouldn’t be an expert in the cybersecurity field without his education. Max also talks about how his transition from the military into the public sector moved him from the battlefield to the boardroom.

We encourage you to share the video and this article via your social media channels to make Cybersecurity Awareness Month a success.

For more information on our degree and certificate programs, visit our university’s website.

Glynn Cosker is a Managing Editor at AMU Edge. In addition to his background in journalism, corporate writing, web and content development, Glynn served as Vice Consul in the Consular Section of the British Embassy located in Washington, D.C. Glynn is located in New England.

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