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Protecting Small Businesses and the DIB: National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Sep 21, 2023
In today's interconnected world, where digital technology is deeply integrated into our daily lives, cybersecurity has become a critical concern. This is particularly true for the small businesses that are part of, or wish to be part of, the defense supply chain.
Every October for the past 20 years, we observe National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). This month-long initiative, led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and supported by numerous public and private organizations, serves as a timely reminder of the importance of safeguarding our digital presence. 
As part of NCSAM’s 20th year, Project Spectrum aims to raise awareness about cybersecurity threats and educate individuals and organizations on how to protect themselves online.

Understanding NCSAM 
NCSAM was established in 2004 in response to the growing need for enhanced cybersecurity awareness and education. Its primary goals are to promote a safer and more secure digital environment for all and to encourage individuals, businesses, and communities to take proactive measures to protect their online assets.
Each year, NCSAM focuses on specific themes and topics to ensure that the campaign remains relevant and addresses current cybersecurity challenges. The initiative comprises a wide range of activities, resources, and events, making it accessible to people of all backgrounds and levels of expertise.

NCSAM 2023: Four Pillars of Cybersecurity
NCSAM 2023 focuses on four simple steps to keep safe online and underscores the importance of personal responsibility when it comes to cybersecurity. It emphasizes that each of us plays a crucial role in safeguarding our digital lives. Let's take a closer look at the four steps at the heart of this year's campaign:
1. Using strong passwords and a password manager. This pillar is a critical first step to securing your data and your online presence. Strong passwords are long and include all four-character types – upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Meanwhile, password managers can make this easier, helping you to not only create strong passwords, but to remember them!
2. Enabling multifactor authentication (MFA) wherever possible. Enabling MFA when available adds an extra step beyond just a strong password. This layered approach requires a combination of two or more authenticators:
Something you know, such as a PIN or a password.
Something you have, such as an authentication application or text message.
Something you are, such as a face scan or a fingerprint.
3. Recognizing and reporting phishing attempts. Phishing attempts are the number one risk to data security. Be wary of unsolicited emails, texts, phone calls or other communications seeking personal information. Always avoid clicking clicks or opening links from unknown sources. If possible, verify the authenticity of requests by contacting individuals or organizations through trusted channels. Next, report phishing attempts – if a request looks suspicious, report it to an IT department or other relevant authorities. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has resources on recognizing phishing attempts. Take the opportunity to study up during NCSAM 2023!
4. Update your software. Making sure your software is up to date is vital to ensuring the integrity of your devices and data. Vulnerabilities in operating systems, software applications, and other services can give attackers a doorway to your data. Again, personal responsibly comes into play here – if automatic updates are disabled or unavailable, it is important to manually (and regularly) check for updates.

Getting Involved
Participating in National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is easy and can make a significant impact. Here are some ways you can get involved:
1. Educate Yourself: Take advantage of the wealth of resources provided by Project Spectrum, including cybersecurity tools, training, and information. Learn to spot phishing attacks whenever possible.
2. Share Knowledge: Spread the word about NCSAM within your organization and on social media. Learned to better spot phishing attempts? Pass that knowledge on to others! Share educational content and resources to help others become more cyber-aware.
3. Secure Your Digital Life: Take the opportunity to review and improve your own cybersecurity practices and those within your organization. Update your passwords, enable MFA, and install updates and necessary security software.

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month serves as a vital reminder of the shared responsibility we all have in protecting our digital lives, as well as protecting our national security. By following the four pillars of cybersecurity, organizations within the defense supply chain can contribute to a safer and more secure online environment. Whether your organization is just beginning its cybersecurity journey or is bolstering all the protections put into place, NCSAM provides an opportunity to take advantage of all the valuable resources and guidance available through Project Spectrum to help you stay safe in the digital age.
Project Spectrum Team
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