Governor Kathy Hochul today issued a proclamation announcing October 2021 as Cyber Security Awareness Month in New York State. The announcement comes as part of a committed effort to raise awareness on the importance of all New Yorkers developing smart cyber security practices and safe online habits as we face growing internet threats. Observed each October, Cyber Security Awareness month is a nationally recognized collaborative effort to engage and educate the public about security and to provide tools and resources to help them stay safe online.
“As our local, state, and federal assets are increasingly forced to cope with the damage caused by online criminal activity, it is critically important that both individuals and institutions ensure a dedicated focus on good cybersecurity practices,” Governor Hochul said. “We are raising awareness for New Yorkers at all levels of the public and private sector so that our state can continue to lead the nation in aggressively combatting this evolving 21st century threat.”
The theme for the 18th annual Cyber Security Awareness Month — “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart” — highlights the growing importance of cybersecurity and encourages individuals and organizations to take the necessary measures to protect themselves in an increasingly connected world.
“The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services works with government and critical infrastructure partners to bolster protections against cyber threats and respond quickly to incidents when they occur,” said New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Executive Deputy Commissioner Terence J. O’Leary. “However, cyber security is everyone’s responsibility. Being able to identify cyber threats and react appropriately is critical to protecting personal information, which is why New Yorkers should take measures during Cyber Security Awareness Month to educate themselves on what’s at risk and understand the basic steps they can take to protect the systems and networks they rely upon.”
“As cyberattacks continue to rise, it is critical for all of us to secure potential gaps to reduce the risk of such attacks,” said Acting Superintendent of Financial Services Adrienne A. Harris. “The New York State Department of Financial Services continues to uphold the Department’s innovative, first-in-the-nation cybersecurity regulation to help ensure regulated entities are vigilant against cyberattacks, protecting consumers and the integrity of New York’s financial services industry.”
“In this digital age, cyber security is our highest priority,” said New York State Chief Information Officer Angelo ‘Tony’ Riddick. “Thanks to the leadership of Governor Hochul and our partners at all levels of government, New York is well-prepared to address cyber threats. We must all work together and take proactive steps to keep New York safe.”
“Ensuring that every individual is invested in the protection of their own digital footprint is critical in the interconnected world we live in,” said New York State Chief Information Officer Karen Sorady. “There is a growing dependency on the use of technology in every aspect of our lives and with that dependency comes risk to confidentiality, integrity and availability. Therefore, we must all understand our role in managing that risk. Cyber Security Awareness Month provides an excellent opportunity to focus attention on good ‘cyber hygiene’ practices that will help users safeguard their identity, devices and information.”
New York State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said, “Each day, State Police employees, both sworn and civilian, work to keep New Yorkers safe online. We want to remind the public that just like you should be aware of your physical surroundings, you should be aware of your online presence too. Make sure the sites you shop on are secure, your computer and electronic devices are up-to-date with current security software, and don’t share your passwords. Also, check your financial statements regularly to make sure you are not a victim of fraud. Together, we can prevent future cyber related crimes.”
Cybersecurity is a major challenge for all organizations, but can be especially challenging for businesses that are too small to have a dedicated Chief Information Security Officer and cybersecurity staff. According to a 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigation report, more than 43% of cyberattacks are targeted at small businesses.
The New York State Department of Financial Services in partnership with the non-profit Global Cyber Alliance (GCA) provides a free cybersecurity toolkit to small businesses. These resources help small businesses protect themselves and their customers from the growing cyber threat. The areas covered in the free cybersecurity toolkit include identifying hardware and software, updating defenses against cyber threats, strengthening passwords and multi-factor authentication, backing up and recovering data, and protecting email systems.
The free cybersecurity toolkit for small businesses and the DFS-developed sample cybersecurity policies can be found on the DFS website.
This year’s theme motivates individuals and organizations to own their role in protecting their part of cyberspace. If everyone does their part—implementing stronger security practices, raising community awareness, educating vulnerable audiences, and training employees—our interconnected world will be safer and more resilient for everyone.
Each week in Cyber Security Awareness Month will revolve around a new topic:
- Understanding and implementing basic cyber hygiene, including the importance of strong passphrases, using multi-factor authentication, performing software updates and backing up data.
- Recognizing and reporting phishing attempts, whether they come through email, text messages, or chat boxes.
- Empowering individuals to not only practice safe online behavior, but also consider joining in the mission to secure our online world by pursuing a career in cybersecurity.
- Making cybersecurity a business priority by ensuring products and processes are “secure by design” and encouraging the consideration of cybersecurity when purchasing new internet-connected devices.
NYS ITS is providing a number of free educational resources to the public, such as the electronic Cyber Security Awareness Toolkit. The Toolkit includes cyber security-themed posters, calendars, brochures and other content that can be downloaded and shared to help promote and reinforce cyber safety themes in practical, informative, entertaining, and usable ways. The Toolkit material may be accessed on the ITS website at www.its.ny.gov/ciso/.
In conjunction with cybersecurity awareness month, NYS ITS CISO is coordinating a statewide cyber security poster contest for students in grades Kindergarten-12. This is a timely opportunity for school teachers to focus on keeping children safe online in a fun and informative way. New York State winners will be featured on the ITS website and entered into the National Contest. For more information on the poster contest, please visit https://its.ny.gov/2021-2022-kids-safe-online-poster-contest.
Visit the ITS CISO website at www.its.ny.gov/ciso/ for more information on National Cyber Security Awareness Month, follow us on Twitter at #NYSCyber, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NYS.Office.ITS/.