The start of October marked the Department of Homeland Security’s ninth annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month. But along with the initiative on Internet security, the month is also raising concerns over new and looming cyber policies and attacks.
Kicking off the annual cybersecurity awareness campaign, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano called for a collaborative effort from American citizens, businesses and government alike to act responsibly and educate others on online safety.
“From the kitchen table to the classroom, from business transactions to essential government operations and services, cybersecurity is an issue that touches all of us,” said Sec. Napolitano said in a statement. “To ensure our nation’s security in cyberspace, each of us must play our part. National Cyber Security Awareness Month reminds us that being safer and more secure online is a shared responsibility and we are urging the public and private sector to join DHS to ACT –‘Achieve Cybersecurity Together.’”
In accordance with Napolitano, Defense Department Deputy CIO Robert Carey called for more educational policies and practices to ensure computer users understand the essential elements of cybersecurity.
“The most important link is the user. Each of us, when we engage the network, is either an asset or a vulnerability, depending on our actions,” Carey said in a joint American Forces Press Service and Pentagon Channel interview. “The human becomes the weakest link, and so the more we can strengthen that weakest link, the better we will be.”
Meanwhile, the White House may also be using the month of October to strengthen its own networks and educate federal employees on certain types of cyber attacks.
According to Reuters, the White House last week was the target of spear phishing, an attack that attempts to penetrate systems by spoofing trusted email addresses to access sensitive information.
Though the White House and many of its federal agencies face thousands of cyber attack attempts daily, one senior administration official told Reuters, “In this instance the attack was identified, the system was isolated, and there is no indication whatsoever [that any data was extracted]. Moreover, there was never any impact or attempted breach of any classified system.”
If the hackers were trying to get their hands on the latest draft of President Obama’s pending executive order on cybersecurity, it seems they’ll have to join us in the waiting game.
Michelle Kincaid is a DC-based public affairs professional specializing in technology policy. She is also founder of the blog CybersecurityNews.org. Follow her on Twitter