Ask most people about cybersecurity and their response will likely be something along the lines of computers, the internet, and hackers! Everyone seems to know that cyberattacks are a big problem, but very few understand how they happen or what can be done to prevent them. This is because the majority of information on this topic has been — until recently — extremely technical and inaccessible for most ordinary people. However, things are changing. In recent years there has been an unprecedented amount of coverage regarding data privacy breaches, hacking incidents, and cyber warfare. This has sparked more general interest in cybersecurity as a field with specialist jobs opening up around the world. Awareness about cyber threats is also growing in governments that have started taking precautions against future attacks. A perfect example is European Cybersecurity Month (ECSM), which aims to increase awareness about cybersecurity among citizens, businesses, and governments across Europe by organizing activities throughout October each year.
What is ENISA
The European Network and Information Security Agency, or ENISA for short, is a European Union agency that supports the development of a secure and trustworthy cyber environment. This includes protecting critical infrastructures, such as power grids and water treatment plants, as well as the networks that supply services to businesses and private citizens. The ENISA also provides advice to the EU, its member states, and the wider public on how to protect against cyber threats. The ENISA also organizes European Cybersecurity Month each October. The ECSM, European Cybersecurity Month is an initiative launched by EU Member States to raise awareness about cybersecurity and cyber resilience in the EU. The initiative was launched in 2012 and is held from the 1st to the 31st of October each year.
What is the European Cybersecurity Month?
The ECSM is an annual event to increase awareness about cybersecurity in Europe. It is organized by the ENISA and is a great opportunity for all stakeholders to exchange best practices and know-how. The focus for this year’s ECSM is on the risk posed by ransomware and phishing attacks, and how European citizens can protect themselves online. The ECSM aims to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity, while also inspiring Europe to take action in the fight against cybercrime.
Why does Europe need more awareness about Cybersecurity?
One of the most important threats to national security is cyber attacks. Cyber threats can range from simple hacking attempts to organized cybercrime or cyberwarfare. Although the impact of cyber threats can be significant, there is still room for improvement when it comes to knowledge and awareness about cybersecurity in Europe. Furthermore, according to a survey, only half of EU citizens feel they are adequately informed about cyber threats. This is because most people lack an understanding of the potential risks associated with digital activities.
How does the European Cybersecurity Month help?
The ECSM aims to improve awareness among citizens and businesses about digital threats such as cybercrime, hacking, and data manipulation. This is done in several ways: through the network of ENISA cyber resilience advisors located in the EU Member States and Partner Countries. By providing information resources, such as an online cybersecurity knowledge hub. By organizing workshops, training and other events.
Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility
The concept of shared responsibility is one of the critical messages of the ECSM. All stakeholders should contribute to increase awareness about cybersecurity. Both businesses and governments should ensure that appropriate cybersecurity measures are in place. Businesses should implement stronger measures and take steps to reduce the risk of falling victim to cyberattacks. Similarly, governments should encourage businesses and citizens to implement stronger cybersecurity practices and promote awareness about digital threats.
What is phishing?
Phishing is one of the most common forms of online scams. During phishing scams, cybercriminals attempt to obtain sensitive information such as login details to bank accounts, user names and passwords to social media accounts, and other personal data. This information is then used to commit crimes such as identity theft, money laundering, and fraud. Phishing attacks are typically carried out via email. In these emails, scammers attempt to lure users into clicking on malicious links by impersonating trusted organizations, such as banks or government agencies. If a user clicks on the link, they are directed to a website that looks identical to the original website. This is where the scam takes place. In order to avoid this, you should check the URL at the top of your browser. If it does not match the URL of the website you were expecting to visit, you should not proceed.
How to protect yourself from phishing
While phishing attempts can be difficult to avoid, there are several practices you can employ to stay safe. These include:
- Be cautious when clicking on links
- If a link looks suspicious, do not click on it.
- Always check the URL in the browser bar.
- If it does not match the website you were expecting to visit, do not proceed.
- Limit the amount of sensitive information you provide.
- Do not provide your social security number in an email, for example.
- Never click on attachments from unknown senders - These could contain harmful software.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files, data, and even entire computer systems until a ransom is paid. These malicious programs are often distributed via email, but can also enter systems via infected media, such as USB drives, or malicious software installed on computers by unsecured networks. Ransomware attacks are growing in number and are estimated to have accounted for $1 billion in revenue for cyber criminals in 2017. The best way to prevent a ransomware attack is to keep your software up to date. You should also avoid downloading software from unrecognized websites and be mindful of what you click on.
How to protect yourself from ransomware
There are several steps you can take to protect yourself from ransomware. These include:
- Keep all software up to date.
- This includes your operating system and other software installed on your computer.
- Avoid downloading software from unrecognized websites.
- This is particularly important if you use a Windows computer as it is more susceptible to ransomware compared to other operating systems.
- Be careful what you click on.
- Hackers often pose as legitimate organizations and trick people into clicking on links or attachments that contain malicious software.
How to protect your online identity
Identity theft is a serious threat that can have long-term consequences. To minimize the risk of becoming a victim, you should take the following steps:
- Keep your personal information private.
- This includes your birth date, home address, and financial information.
- Use a password manager.
- Password managers allow you to create long, complex passwords for each of your online accounts. They also help you store them in a secure manner.
- Be careful on social media.
- Be mindful of what you share on social media and do not click on links that seem suspicious.
The European Cybersecurity Month - ECSM - is a great initiative to improve cybersecurity in Europe. All stakeholders should be involved in the process to better protect against cybersecurity threats. During European Cybersecurity Month you can learn more about cybersecurity and take action to protect yourself and your devices. There is no better time to start!