Happy Computer Security Day!
Since its inception in 1988, Computer Security Day has been celebrated annually on the 30th of November… but I’ll forgive if you tell me you’ve never heard of it.
In the late 1980s computers were growing rapidly in popularity, but there was a long way to go before they became the common household item they are today. Technology has changed considerably over the years but one thing that remains the same is the threat of hackers and viruses that have been around since the Commodore 64. With more sensitive data stored online than ever before, there is an even greater need to ensure that effective security measures are in place as the vulnerability of individuals continues to grow as the most appealing targets for hackers.
A quick Google search generates multiple results for Computer Security Day, yet the only recent example of an associated activity was in Mauritius in 2016. Despite the ever-growing need for cybersecurity awareness, the day has been lost in our calendars and overtaken in popularity by the likes of International Chihuahua Appreciation Day (May 14th in case you’re wondering). While nobody can argue that Chihuahuas shouldn’t be given a day of appreciation, cybersecurity deserves a place in our diaries too.
For World Book Day, schools celebrate the occasion with children dressing up as their favourite characters and receiving book tokens to encourage them to read. There is no reason why Computer Security Day could not be celebrated in a similar fashion; as the world becomes ever more digitised, online safety is vital. With homework now being set online and communication with pupils taking place over email, schools should use the event as a way to educate students. Children will not only need to be aware of cybersecurity in school, but in their daily lives beyond education, therefore educating them on the essentials of staying safe online will set them up for life. The day should be treated as an opportunity to run workshops or encourage students to explore career options in tech. Security organisations should come in and speak to children about how they can help to keep the hackers at bay, run workshops and take part in important security conversations so the event would be properly commemorated rather than forgotten.
If just one of the 365 days of the year is to be dedicated to cybersecurity, organizations and governments should take the opportunity to celebrate the event, and take meaningful steps to improve cybersecurity awareness and practice within their spheres of influence. It could be as simple as businesses getting their employees to check that they are complying with company security policy, or better, the government could provide online resources much like educative guides provided by the CPNI among others. If even one day of education was set aside by the Government to provide people with the knowledge needed to protect themselves, people would be encouraged to build positive habits online and be able to prevent the unnecessary damage that can be caused by hackers.
However, cybersecurity is not something that can be reserved for a single day of the year and forgotten about the next: people need to consider how they operate online all year long. Hackers continue to grow more sophisticated and new threats appear daily, so security is something that needs to be considered constantly. Where Computer Security Day has become lost and forgotten, cybersecurity as a whole must not suffer the same fate. Actions must be continuously repeated for them to become a habit so perhaps setting time aside each and every day to check security methods would ensure a safer internet landscape.
A single day of computer security seems hardly enough to combat the growing number of potential threats but any day that encourages people to consider their safety should be celebrated. Computer Security Day should be treated as a reminder, to check what protection you have in place and educate yourself about what you can do to improve. By learning positive online habits, cybersecurity day can be every day.
Learn more about how you can make a start by securing your emails with industry best practice standards like SPF, DKIM and DMARC here.