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6 Things CISOs Are Thinking About For Cybersecurity Awareness Month

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October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, emphasizing digital safety and education.

During Black Hat 2023, CSO at https://companies.mybroadband.co.za, Chris Denbigh-White, engaged with leading CISOs to explore their thoughts on this crucial month. These discussions revealed recurring themes about the state and future of cybersecurity.

1. Awareness

Kevin Apolinario of Kevtech IT Support fame wants people to be more aware of social engineering attacks. “Just because they say they work at Best Buy doesn’t mean they work at Best Buy,” he warns. Common social engineering tactics include requests from high-ranking members of your company’s leadership that are unrelated to your work function.

Principal Technical Evangelist for Orca, Neil Carptenter is focusing on simplifying the message around cybersecurity to raise awareness. “I want people to feel like they can do this.” He wants people to use physical-world comparisons to cybersecurity concepts. For example, he compares protecting passwords to protecting a credit card. “I know where my credit card is; I know it’s safe. Whatever tools you use to store your passwords, you need to treat that like you would your credit card.”

2. Education

SSE podcast co-host and Field CTO for Axis Security Jaye Tillson believes that cybersecurity awareness month is a great opportunity for everyone to learn more about how to stay safe online. “We need to educate, educate, educate, especially the younger generation,” Tillson shared in his conversation with Chris Denbigh-White. “When they get to our age, they’re going to need to know a lot more than we’ve historically needed to know.” He warns that as businesses get better at protecting their data, cyber attackers will turn their attention to individual users and gain access through personal avenues.

Breaking into Cybersecurity Podcast Host, Christophe Foulon recommends breaking training into bite-sized chunks that are individually catered to each professional group receiving the training. “So, accounting will have different educational requirements than, say, the manufacturing floor,” he explains.

3. Making Cybersecurity Fun

CISO of Noname Security, Karl Mattson advocates for incentivizing and gamifying cybersecurity training. “Cybersecurity training is a checklist exercise. It’s boring,” he says. “If we make it a little more fun, I think people will be more willing to engage with their security team.” As a result of an entertaining and educational Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Mattson hopes that employees will have better cyber hygiene and a better relationship with the cybersecurity team should a cyber incident arise.

“[Cybersecurity is] something that has to be part of the culture,” explains co-founder and CEO of Entitle Ron Nissim. He reminded us that it’s not usually grand plots of espionage that lead to data breach incidents; rather, “it’s usually some random person, some random USB, or some random password” that leads to compromised data. As a result, he’s focused on getting everyone in his company aligned on how they can secure data together.

Echoing that point, CEO of Bugcrowd Dave Gerry calls for finding ways to transform employees into “cyber champions.” He views the cybersecurity team’s role as clearly communicating and reinforcing secure habits and guidelines. “It’s building the culture and DNA of security back into your business whether you’re a security vendor or whether you’re somebody else. It doesn’t matter: security is a core part of your organization now,” he explains.

4. Supporting one another

The Field CISO for Hyperproof, Kayne McGladrey raised some excellent points about how we can help those around us be better cyber citizens. He spoke about bringing your own expertise home to your families, focusing on best practices for things like networked hardware in our homes and multi-factor authentications for online accounts. Finally, he hoped that members of the cybersecurity community would work together to set strong and positive precedents for newly outlined guidelines set by government bodies in the recent months. He stresses the importance of collaboration and kindness in navigating these regulatory landscapes, highlighting that “a lot can be achieved by working with people as opposed to doing things to people.”

5. Getting everyone on board

SVP and Cyber Risk Evangelist at Black Kite, Jeffrey Wheatman pointed out that cybersecurity isn’t just a tech issue—it has wide-ranging business implications. Wheatman encourages personalizing cybersecurity training, believing that when individuals understand how to protect their personal data, they’re better equipped to ensure security at work.

Chief Security Advocate and CMO at Cymulate, Carolyn Crandall underscores that cybersecurity isn’t just a technical challenge—it has vast business implications. She emphasizes bridging the tech-business gap and harmonizing risk mitigation with digital growth. Both Crandall and Wheatman highlight the importance of understanding and actively addressing business risks associated with cyber threats. For Crandall, it’s imperative that boards and leadership teams actively participate in cybersecurity discussions, translating technical information into business terms to establish common language and understanding. The goal is to integrate cybersecurity into the company’s DNA, implementing continuous improvement and enabling everyone to take ownership.

CEO and co-Founder of Zenity, Ben Kliger emphasized the direct business implications of cybersecurity literacy, suggesting that everyone in an organization should understand their role in maintaining security.

Cybersecurity’s strategic importance cannot be overstated. Both Wheatman and Crandall highlight its implications, even in sectors not traditionally seen as tech-centric. Dave Gary touches on the role of AI and privacy, suggesting clear policies to manage emerging risks. The consensus among experts is clear: cybersecurity needs to be woven into an organization’s ethos, with every individual playing an active role.

John Spiegel stressed the need for a zero-trust strategy, especially in today’s distributed work environment. This approach ensures smooth business operations while upholding rigorous security standards.

In essence, having strategic discussions about cybersecurity at the leadership and board levels and developing comprehensive policies and processes are crucial steps in ensuring that cybersecurity is an integral part of the organizational culture and business strategy, emphasizing the role of CISOs in communicating the value and importance of cybersecurity to all stakeholders.

6. Investing in Advanced Security Technologies

CISOs are constantly evaluating and investing in advanced security technologies to stay ahead of cyber threats. They explore solutions such as artificial intelligence (AI)-powered threat detection, behavior analytics, and cloud security platforms to enhance their organization’s security posture. Cybersecurity Month serves as a reminder to assess the effectiveness of existing security technologies and explore innovations.

In conclusion, Cybersecurity Month is a valuable reminder for CISOs to assess the current threat landscape, strengthen employee awareness, conduct vulnerability assessments, and enhance incident response plans. By prioritizing these ten key areas, CISOs can ensure their organizations are well-prepared to defend against cyber threats and protect sensitive data. Let’s make cybersecurity a top priority not just in October but throughout the year.

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