On September 30, 2017, President Trump signed a proclamation declaring October 2017 as “National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.” This year marks the 14th iteration of the annual event, which is cosponsored by the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and the National Cyber Security Alliance, a nonprofit organization that promotes education and awareness efforts relating to cybersecurity.
At the outset, President Trump’s proclamation cited recent “attacks on a cross-section of America: businesses both small and large, State and local governments, schoolhouses, hospitals, and infrastructure critical to public safety and national security.” The proclamation recognized society’s “increasing reliance on technology and the internet,” and stressed the need for “public and private sector organizations to work together to provide Americans with the information, guidance, and tools they need to improve their safety and security in the digital age.”
In recognition of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, DHS has provided tools and resources on its website to help Americans stay safe online. DHS has also identified weekly “themes” for the entire month, the first of which focuses on consumer online safety and steps consumers can take to protect themselves and avoid cybercrime. Themes for the remainder of October include cybersecurity in the workplace, society’s increased reliance on the Internet-of-Things (“IoT”) including smart devices, careers in cybersecurity, and the importance of protecting critical infrastructure (power grids, public water supplies, etc.) from cyber attacks. Finally, DHS has published its “Stop.Think.Connect. Toolkit” which includes materials designed for specific audiences (e.g., students, parents, small businesses, and law enforcement) that address topics such as social media, online gaming, identity theft scams, and best practices for creating an online account password.
President Trump’s proclamation also specifically referenced the Executive Order he signed entitled “Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure.” The President stated that the Executive Order will, among other things, “help secure Federal networks that operate on behalf of American citizens” and “improve coordination with industry to protect the critical infrastructure that maintains our American way of life.” Signed on May 11, 2017, the Executive Order provides directives in three broad categories: (1) Cybersecurity of Federal Networks, (2) Cybersecurity of Critical Infrastructure, and (3) Cybersecurity for the Nation. As an overriding theme, the Order stated that “the executive branch has for too long accepted antiquated and difficult-to-defend IT,” and it warned that federal agency heads will be held accountable for managing cybersecurity risk.
The National Cyber Security Alliance is also sponsoring cybersecurity awareness and education events nationwide throughout the month of October, as well as online webinars.