As October 2020 ended, so did the 17th edition of the National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM).

During NCSAM 2020, Microsoft gave out the message that ‘Cybersecurity awareness isn’t just for October, but for life.’ 

NCSAM is an annual Cybersecurity Awareness event. Its core idea is to help US citizens recognize the importance of cybersecurity in their daily life. Via NCSAM, Microsoft also educates people on their rights & how they can protect themselves & their data in the virtual world. The vanguard of the event is the US Department of Homeland Security. 

What did NCSAM 2020 look like?

Popularising the hashtag #BeCyberSmart, this year’s NCSAM was a little different than the 16 years before. This year, the US Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCSA) supported the event, urging people to ‘Do Their Part’ in securing their data. Topics under consideration revolved around device security and internet-connected technology. A current matter of concern in the United States of America, Cybersecurity for the healthcare sector was a major matter of discussion at NCSAM too.

Throughout the month, a number of activities were performed in public welfare. These included: 

  • FBI providing educational materials on cybercrimes & FBI’s approach towards them, pandemic-related cyber scams, cybersecurity industry-based recruitment and more
  • Webinars across universities like the University of California Santa Barbara, the University of California Irvine on subjects like cyber threat landscape & password security
  • Tip-sheets provided on protecting identity in the scenarios of multi-factor authentication, frauds & more
  • Tip-listings about safeguarding oneself against crimes like phishing, website cyber crimes & more
  • Providing information on keeping your systems updated and using methods to secure yourself online
  • Using organizations & vendors to spread awareness using the hashtag #BeCyberSmart

Is Cybersecurity Awareness month enough?

Microsoft, in a blog posted recently, pointed out that even though a lot has been achieved via campaigns like NCSAM, there’s still a long way to go. Where NCSAM has been a success across the security industry as well as the government, is it enough? How much of an impact can an annual event dedicated to cybersecurity create?

Today, everyone’s lives are dependent on the virtual world in one way or another. There is some aspect of the tech-world that has our information. It thus becomes important to everyone that they pay heed to how this data regarding them is being handled. It becomes necessary that cybersecurity becomes a habit. This is the message that Microsoft conveyed via NCSAM 2020. They tried to promote cybersecurity at a deeper level, make it a topic of discussion amongst the mass & help them realize its value.

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Considering the year 2020, one can see that the virtual world has helped us sustain our lives amidst a dangerous pandemic. But at the same time, organizations across the globe have suffered big losses due to cybercrimes. This is a clear indication that though the internet & technology hold the potential to help us lead a better life, our identity isn’t completely secure there. Though month-long campaigns like NCSAM are a good way to spread awareness on the subject, a more sustainable solution is now necessary.