Campaigns across the US and Europe will focus on education, awareness, and national security

Today marks the start of the 15th annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), as government agencies, businesses, and consumer groups across the US encourage citizens to be more #CyberAware.

The initiative, a joint venture between the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCSA) and the Department for Homeland Security (DHS), will this year focus on individual responsibility, education, and the United States’ commitment to securing critical infrastructure.

Each week will address specific challenges – teaching parents how to be safe online at home will begin week one, whereas week two will address the cybersecurity skills gap and demand for an educated workforce.

Week three will look at individual responsibility in the workplace, and week four will address protecting US critical infrastructure.

Russ Schrader, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, told The Daily Swig ahead of the launch: “It is our shared responsibility to help protect the internet – we all need to do our part to keep our networks safe.

“Doing so means educating multi-generational groups – from kids on up to seniors. Everyone needs to know how to protect themselves and their information while online.”

Aside from educating people on the dangers at home, the NCSA hopes to encourage more individuals to consider a career in cybersecurity – a rapidly growing job market struggling to fill its many vacant positions.

Last year, there were 350,000 unfilled cybersecurity positions in the US alone, globally this figure is expected to reach 3.5 million by 2021, according to research by Cybersecurity Ventures.

Schrader said: “We hope to get more people aware of the cybersecurity workforce gap and help people understand what a career in cybersecurity is all about – there are many available, good paying jobs, and they are not just for people with a tech background.

“If you have a curious nature, are a problem solver, and are willing to learn, you might consider a career in cybersecurity. The tech skills can be learned.”

This year, NCSAM will also address the threat to US critical infrastructure, namely from terrorist organizations and foreign actors, as the nation looks to modernize – take, for example, the security concerns that were sparked with its recent foray into smartphone voting.

“One of the biggest threats is complacency,” Schrader told The Daily Swig.

“Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, and there are things that we all must do to keep ourselves, our families and our workplaces safe.”

Across the pond

Elsewhere, European Cybersecurity Month (ECSM) also kicks off today with its sixth annual campaign.

The month-long drive is organized by the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), the European Commission, and over 300 partners including governments, universities, and charities.

Week one will focus on basic security hygiene, and week two will again explore the cybersecurity skills gap in the workplace.

In week three, the campaign will look at how to spot online scammers, and the final week will put the spotlight on emerging tech and privacy.

As part of the initiative, the UK announced it has launched the Cadets CyberFirst programme, a pledge to equip 2,000 young people a year with the skills and expertise needed for a career in the industry.

Training and awareness materials have also been made available in 23 European languages on the official ECSM website.

European commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel said: “Cybersecurity is a challenge as well as an opportunity for Europe. The stronger we become in preventing and resisting cyber threats, the better for the competitiveness of our businesses and the security of our citizens.”