October is Cybersecurity Awareness month, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is taking this opportunity to ensure businesses and individuals are aware of the services and resources available that can help build or strengthen their cybersecurity. Clearance Jobs sat down with Aastha Verma, Branch Chief in Vulnerability Management at CISA, to learn more about cybersecurity, why it’s so important, and what steps businesses and individuals can take for better cyber hygiene.

“Cybersecurity is such a large field. And so much of it is complex and poorly understood, especially if you’re not in the field itself,” said Verma. “But the purpose of Cybersecurity Awareness Month is to help folks to understand that there is a world that exists in which they participate, knowingly or unknowingly, that puts them at risk.”

Cyber threats can come from anywhere, and they target everyone. “There’s a misconception that cybersecurity crimes happen to some upper echelon, in a world that is separated from the average consumer, and that is not the case,” explained Verma.

More and more, small and medium-sized companies are finding themselves with a target on their backs. Better cyber hygiene can help mitigate many of these attacks. But smaller businesses have smaller budgets and may not be able to afford a dedicated IT staff or licenses for expensive software to help protect them.

“There needs to be some level of protection that small to medium-sized businesses take on for themselves. Things like patching, regular backups, having continuity disaster recovery plans, and continuity plans are part of good cyber hygiene practice. And they should be practiced by every sized firm,” said Verma. “But then there is a set of services that agencies like CISA can help provide to make the ecosystem overall more resilient and stronger to this type of tactic.”

Businesses often don’t know where to start, but CISA’s Cyber Hygiene Program removes the guesswork. This program, which is free, begins with a vulnerability scan that looks at your network for weaknesses. From there, additional services could include web app scanning, phishing tests, and more.

“You can participate in this program by going to CISA’s website and sending an email to vulnerability@cisa.DHS.gov to get the process started,” said Verma. “And what you get at the end of that is participation in a program that sends you a report every Monday, or every month, that tells you what your cyber hygiene posture is and how much is has improved with your actions. It’s a great tool for those on the front lines and for CISA to be an ally in their fight to protect their enterprises from cyber security risks.”

The cybersecurity world is a growing field, and as more of our world turns to online services, it’s one that needs even more workers to protect consumers and businesses alike. CISA is hiring cyber professionals at all experience levels to complete this mission. “Don’t think you have to be a cyber expert at the top levels to make a difference. Sometimes we need the groundswell, so we’re willing to train and we’re willing to hire those who have had some level of training,” said Verma.

CISA is hiring professionals of all experience levels. See yourself in cyber and join CISA’s mission by checking the job openings on their website.


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