Thursday, October 01, 2020

Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2020: it's time to get smart about computer crime and digital technology abuse

Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2020 logo

Cybersecurity has become such an important part of modern life that many countries now dedicate an entire month—October—to increasing the levels of knowledge and awareness of cybersecurity among organizations and the general population. For October of 2020, the theme is: 

"Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart."

You will see that phrase and the hashtag #BeCyberSmart all over the internet in October 2020. You will also see it here, on this blog, which will post one article about cybersecurity every day for 31 days.

Not all of these articles will be traditional cybersecurity awareness content. Why? These days there is, already, a large amount of very good cybersecurity awareness material already out there, and even more will be published this month by companies, organizations, agencies, and experts. 

If  traditional cybersecurity awareness is what you are looking for, I suggest you start with the orange Resources button on this website: Stay Safe Online. The Stay Safe Online website is run by a US-based non-profit, the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). The NCSA coordinates Cyber Security Awareness Month activities in the US as well as the year-round STOP. THINK. CONNECT. online safety campaign

(Note: For much of the past decade I was closely involved in NCSA activities and served as a member of its board of directors on behalf of ESET, a founding member of STOP. THINK. CONNECT, and my employer from 2011 to 2019.)

During October, 2020, I will be adding some fresh thoughts on cybersecurity to this blog as well as revisiting and re-tweeting some of my awareness work with NCSA and ESET. On social media I will be pointing people to accounts like @StaySafeOnline and @Cyber to get the latest in this year's awareness month activities. These are being hash-tagged #BeCyberSmart (in previous years the hashtag #CyberAware was used).

For readers in the EU: "The European Cybersecurity Month (ECSM) is the European Union’s annual campaign dedicated to promoting cybersecurity among EU citizens and organisations, and to providing up-to-date online security information through awareness raising and sharing of good practices" (see the ECSM website for more).

Cyber Crime Awareness Month?

If we step back a moment and ask why the world needs more cybersecurity awareness, an obvious answer would be "because there's so much cybercrime." That is why I think attempts to raise awareness of the need for cybersecurity need to include an explanation of why there is so much cybercrime. 

So, my focus this October is on the causes of cybercrime and other forms of digital technology abuse, the most problematic of the many challenges faced by cybersecurity. (Cybersecurity challenges that are not digital technology abuse include human error and acts of nature, like earthquakes and hurricanes.)

In a law journal article published at the beginning of this year I wrote: cybercrime is a global problem that negatively impacts everyone—from commercial enterprises to government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the public—in every nation and territory. Multiple surveys in countries with high levels of Internet adoption suggest a high degree of concern that the risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime is increasing." Here is the chart that I provided to illustrate this:


This chart combines results from Stephen Cobb, ESET Cybersecurity Barometer, USA 2018, We Live Security, 2019, and EU Special Eurobarometer 480 Report on Europeans’ attitudes towards Internet security, 2019. 

Although my law journal—Advancing Accurate and Objective Cybercrime Metrics—is written in the text-heavy format of that publication style, it does contain a wide range of statistics and sources that may be helpful if you want to research the question of how much cybercrime there is, and how the world currently goes about measuring cybercrime. 

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