NCSAM Wrap-Up & Planning for Next Year

With October now at a close, this year’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month is over! For businesses, this means it’s time to look at what you accomplished with your NCSAM initiatives this year and start planning for next year.  

When looking back at your efforts this October, some questions to ask yourself are: 

  • Did your organization have goals for NCSAM this year?  
  • What new things did you try, or what programs did you continue from previous years?  
  • What type of feedback did you receive?  
  • What would you like to try next year? 
  • What results are you looking to accomplish with your cybersecurity initiatives? 

Wondering how you can better leverage NCSAM in the future? This year, we saw some very interesting and inspiring NCSAM programs from individuals and organizations across the US and the world. Check out the #NCSAM or #CyberAware hashtags on social media to see the range of activities and information throughout this month. Here are some ideas of how you can use NCSAM next year to inform and educate, both in the workplace and at home. 

  • Educate your customers and clients. We all want to trust that the products we use and the organizations we do business with are taking security seriously. NCSAM is an ideal time to host a webinar, open house, or other in-person or virtual event for customers or clients to learn all the ways your organization is protecting them. You could introduce IT leaders and team members, spotlight key internal IT initiatives, talk about security features built into your product or service, and remind customers and clients about cybersecurity basics that are particularly relevant to your industry. 
  • Organize employee training. When it comes to cybersecurity, regular employee training is critical. Safe online practices need to be reinforced until they become habits. NCSAM is an ideal time to host internal activities like webinars, brown bag lunches, or an IT open house. IT Services at Miami University did just that, hosting an open house where they answered questions about cybersecurity and handed out freebies to people who stopped by. You can reinforce your company’s security policies, share cybersecurity best practices, train people on how to use important technologies like password managers and multifactor authentication, and give people an opportunity to get to know their IT and security teams and what they do every day to make the organization run smoothly. 
  • Share NCSAM materials with your audience. Whether you’re aiming to engage employees or customers, Stay Safe Online has a wealth of materials available to help you spread the word about NCSAM. You can certainly create your own custom materials, but NCSAM also has partner kits and other materials available that you can easily share on social media, in emails, on blog posts, and whatever other channels you use to reach your target audience. 
  • Attend a cybersecurity event. Conferences, panels, and other events from all over the US and the world are posted on the website. Attending a few yourself, or sending team members from relevant departments, can be an effective way to keep up with the latest trends in cybersecurity, learn about existing and emerging technologies, and bring helpful information back to your team and organization. 
  • Inspire the next generation. One mission of NCSAM is to educate kids around safe online habits and to raise awareness of STEM careers. This year, the Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast partnered with Palo Alto Networks and California State Assembly member Jacqui Irwin to teach troops about staying safe online and exciting jobs in STEM fields. Troop members were able to earn a special cybersecurity patch. Other Girl Scouts troops partnered with Raytheon for a Cyber Challenge, where attendees completed activities like identifying a phishing scam while learning about careers in computer science and cybersecurity. If you work in a STEM career, organizing events like these for local kid’s groups can be a great way to spread the mission of NCSAM and contribute to your community. 
  • Keep it fun. Who said cybersecurity has to be boring? NCSAM can be a time for games, challenges, and silliness. Ed Hudson, CISO at California State University, volunteered for a dunk tank to raise awareness for NCSAM and support local charities. You could have employees compete for a prize. You could offer raffles for attending an event or completing an action. Your IT team could do something wacky to raise awareness or incentivize participation. Be creative and have fun! 

Did your company do something for NCSAM this year? Tell us in the comments below!