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Cyber Awareness, cyber awareness, cyber awareness…

Yes, this need for Cyber Awareness may have been a far fetched concept for us as a society, especially us with no technical backgrounds or cyber careers. But let’s face it, with a special thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic pushing us even more online, every single person, and organization has no choice but to be more invested in digitally protecting themselves.

Major cloud software provider, Blackbaud, was attacked by ransomware late last year, Grumman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, an entertainment and media law firm, was also a victim of a ransomware attack in which the attackers demanded a sum of $42 million . University of California, San Francisco and many other educational institutions have also not been spared from cyber attacks. These cyber criminals are hitting all industries and sectors, from the corporate world, health, wellness, art, music, education and even nonprofits such as churches!

It has been said that the preparedness of an organization towards various forms of cyber attacks is, unfortunately, directly correlated to the size of the company. How or why?

Elizabeth Denham explained, “When it comes to data [cyber] protection, small businesses tend to be less prepared. They have less to invest in getting it right. They don’t have compliance teams or data protection officers. But small organizations often process a lot of personal data, and the reputation and liability risks are just as real”. So, why do the “little guys” or community focused programs not think their data and business affairs would be sought after by cyber criminals? One reason is that we underestimate the value of our data, searches, contact lists and location information. We have bad digital self esteem.

Government Technology (GT) captured the current cyber threatened landscape best as a “cyber pandemic”. Yes, another pandemic to match our current line up of Covid19 and racism. So, how do we empower ourselves to show resilience and rise above this vulnerable environment?

First, it is no longer just advised, rather now companies and individuals are required to have measures in place to prevent cyber attacks and/ or be prepared to minimize the impact of these cyber attacks. Cyber attack numbers have catapulted significantly. The year 2020 was historic in multiple ways, all of which we are seeing have further intensified the need for digital security, online safety and privacy awareness. GT defined the current cyber attack climate as “the perfect storm in cyberspace”. A perfect storm because our tech dependencies have gone sky high, as well as the diversity of cyber attacks from ransomware to data breaches, election security fraud and the ever infamous unemployment fraud.

An obvious reason for this is the drastic lifestyle shift created by the need for remote work and studying for a lot of companies, schools and other industries. We are definitely more susceptible to more attacks, more of the time. But the truth is that these attackers are making too much money to change, so we, our communities, our work cultures have to. We all have to be the change that we want to see.

To support this change and empower communities, organizations like ours are upping their cyber awareness tactics. For example we, at 1600 Cyber and 1600 Avenue, have dedicated this past week (March 29th - April 2nd, 2021) and beyond to educate and empower people on how to live more cyber aware lives. Our founder, Frank Satterwhite leads the 1600 organization with a commitment to challenge communities to reshape their relationships with technology. One goal is to remind people that tech was made for good and there is a way that we can empower communities, especially our youth, to come back to that.

For 2021, our team of cyber principals, educators and activists have opened up the complex conversations that surround technology (security, privacy, social justice, DEI). We are offering awareness, and education to help people fundamentally change how they view and use their devices. This covers an array of topics from how to make strong and secure passwords, maintaining cyber security conscious internal cyber communication tips, how to use public networks safely, protecting yourself and business from ransomware and how to become cyber champions.

Sounds basic? Maybe, but these are all very practical, essential tips to start and become more digitally conscious and aware humans (managers, colleagues, students, parents or community members in general). As The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) DP 800-50 rightly stated,”failure to give attention to the area of security training puts an enterprise at great risk because security of agency resources is as much a human issue as it is a technology issue”. Let cyber awareness be an area of self improvement for you and all those around you, including your organization.

The Priv Community and 1600 empower people to protect their privacy and secure their lives online. View us as your own personal secret weapon for digital privacy and online security. Start by signing up for our free 20 minute Cyber Awareness workshop and add exponential value to your current workplace, community program, school or home. You are the frontline to any attack.

”The future is now. We are already living in a cyber society, so we need to stop ignoring it or pretending that is not affecting us”-Marco Ciapelli.

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