Cybersecurity Awareness Month was first promoted in October 2008 as a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCSA) to spread awareness about cybersecurity risks and threats, along with best practices to stay safe online.

Now led by the NCSA and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) has grown to include the participation of a multitude of industry-leading companies in cybersecurity. It still happens every October.

The third week of October in particular features a “cybersecurity career awareness week,” which promotes and inspires the public about the demand for cybersecurity talent and the opportunities for career options available in cybersecurity.

According to NCSA’s official website, the theme of Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2021 is “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.” It seeks to raise awareness about the role individuals and companies play in protecting their part of cyberspace.

Being cyber smart is not a complicated task. Businesses can embrace best practices such as using multi-factor authentication solutions, training employees about phishing schemes, and other practical, small actions to reduce cyber risks and deter cyber attacks.

This year’s theme also seeks to emphasize the importance of “cybersecurity first.” Simply promoting cybersecurity as a priority helps to protect against cyber threats and plays a vital role in the enforcement of cybersecurity frameworks.

What Are the Most Common Cybersecurity Threats?

2021 has been a particularly challenging year for global cybersecurity; the arrival of new cyberattack schemes and state-sponsored attacks have left thousands of companies compromised. The most common cybersecurity threats of 2021 have been:

Malware

Malware refers to software designed to infect a device or network to extract, modify, or delete information. These attacks sometimes provide an opening through which cybercriminals can gain access and execute further attacks.

Ransomware

Although ransomware is part of the malware genre, its severity and impact in 2021 should be highlighted. Ransomware is malicious software whose objective is to encrypt information on a device or network, and attackers then demand a ransom payment to return the altered data. Ransomware exploiters threaten to delete or publish the data if their demands are not met.

Cryptojacking

Another class of malware that has become increasingly common in recent years, thanks to the rise of crypto investment worldwide, is “cryptojacking.” Cryptojacker software scans an infected device for crypto-wallets and then extracts their contents to the attackers’ account.

Distributed Denial of Service

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are a form of large-scale brute force assault. They use a coordinated collection of bots to exploit cybersecurity vulnerabilities or to flood a system with requests, which renders a network or service unavailable.

Phishing

Individuals and corporations alike are vulnerable to phishing attacks. Cybercriminals will attempt to persuade individuals with seemingly legitimate emails. The email tries to convince the user to open a malicious attachment or website URL, which then installs malware or gains access to the user’s credentials. This threat is the entry point for a variety of other cyber threats.

What Are the Most Helpful Tools to Protect Us From Cyber Attacks?

Companies and cybersecurity experts rely on various tools that provide security and visibility to their networks to mitigate the risk of these common cyber threats. Some of these tools are:

Penetration Testing Tools

Security specialists conduct penetration tests (pen tests) to acquire access to an organization’s infrastructure and uncover possible vulnerabilities. Pen testing is a type of ethical hacking where vulnerabilities are discovered so that companies can seal up the weaknesses before an attacker exploits them.

Penetration testing tools like Kali Linux or Metasploit facilitate this task by providing advanced features and solutions without a specialized level of cybersecurity knowledge.

Packet Sniffers

Packet sniffers are software used to monitor the data transmitted over a network. A sniffer can see all traffic flowing over the network back and forth. Any data that passes over the network in clear text is vulnerable to sniffing.

Cybersecurity experts use these tools to diagnose and investigate network problems, filter network traffic, and discover network misuse. Tools such as Wireshark and TCPDump are the most common in this area.

Network Security Tools

Many elements and activities are required within network security, so various tools with different functionalities can be adapted to your organization’s needs.

For example, software such as Splunk, POf, and Argus are well-known tools for network monitoring. Other software such as Netsluber, Aircrack-ng, and KisMAC have passive scanning, reliability tests, and continuous monitoring functionalities at their disposal.

Vulnerability Scanning Tools

Vulnerability scanners allow businesses to determine whether their networks, systems, and applications have security flaws exposing them to cyberattacks. Vulnerability scanning is common in business networks and frequently required by industry standards and government laws to improve a company’s security posture. Some known vulnerability scanners are Nmap, Nikto, and Burp Suite.

Intrusion Detection Tools

An intrusion detection tool scans network traffic for unusual or suspicious activities and notifies the administrator. It can also take action based on rules, such as blocking particular incoming traffic activity when malicious activity is discovered. Some known intrusion detection systems (IDS) are Snort, Acunetix, Forcepoint, and GFI LandGuard.

Include ZenGRC in Your Cybersecurity Plans

ZenGRC empowers enterprises with the quickest, simplest, and most prescriptive information security solutions on the market, working in harmony with governance, risk management, and compliance demands to keep you up-to-date and secure.

ZenGRC’s compliance, risk, and workflow management software is an intuitive, simple-to-use platform that not only maintains track of your process but also allows you to identify areas of high risk before they become a genuine issue.

No more looking for documentation, scrolling through emails, or switching between screens. ZenGRC’s unified, at-a-glance dashboards and simplified workflows can streamline cybersecurity checklists and risk assessments, allowing you and your personnel to focus on the big picture.

Schedule a demo now to learn more about how ZenGRC might benefit your business.