Our world today is vastly different than 10 years ago. Today, everything is increasingly complex and interconnected, allowing all of us to conduct business and personal decisions quickly and on the go. However, with this convenience there is a downside. Every day, consumers and businesses – no matter the size –are susceptible to cybersecurity threats and attacks like identity theft, ransomware and phishing attacks.
Identifying the importance of cybersecurity and raising awareness across our nation, President Obama designated October to be National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). NCSAM is designed to engage and educate the public on cybersecurity with the goal of increasing our nation’s resiliency in the event of a cyber incident. Since 2003, DHS S&T’s Cyber Security Division (CSD) has been actively engaged in developing innovative R&D solutions and awareness to help protect our nation’s critical networks, systems, services and resources, known as cyberspace. Ensuring that our nation has a highly skilled cybersecurity workforce to maintain our systems and networks and combating future cyberattacks is essential. S&T’s Cybersecurity Competitions project aims to overcome the shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals by exposing high school and college students and young professionals to robust competition challenges like the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC), and US Cyber Challenge. Furthermore, the S&T-funded website CyberCompEx.org is a virtual community providing the prospective cybersecurity workforce tools and connections needed to develop essential cybersecurity skills.
Throughout the month, CSD will be implementing a cybersecurity awareness campaign through our Facebook and Twitter handles. This campaign will include cyber trivia and tips on how to be cyber savvy, including best practices for computer and network security, social media, identity protection and more. Followers can also find out more about our research projects and how they contribute to improving the broader community’s cybersecurity posture. I encourage you all to engage in the campaign by using hashtags #CyberResearch, #CyberAware, #CyberTip and #NCSAM.
On October 21, I urge you to participate in our Twitter Chat on Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Participants will learn about what a DDoS attack is and S&T’s prevention plan to help mitigate these sophisticated attacks. More info will be coming soon on that event; stay tuned to Facebook, Twitter and our S&T Events page for details.
And just like any organization, DHS S&T also needs to instill cybersecurity mindfulness among our colleagues. For the third year, we will be rolling out our Annual S&T Cybersecurity Competition, which will include a variety of games and quizzes. The top groups within S&T will go head-to-head in a competitive final game to determine a champion, which in the past has been a fun and interactive way to implement cybersecurity awareness and education.
Finally, I want to leave you with one last thought. Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility. And as with any shared responsibility, we all are challenged to create a safer on-line environment by securing cyberspace. If you are not sure how to protect yourself or your business, there are many DHS resources like STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ , United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) and our own Cyber Security Division’s home page. There is no better time than the present to get up to speed. Act now and join S&T to help strengthen our nation’s cybersecurity!
Dr. Reginald Brothers
Under Secretary for Science and Technology