National Cybersecurity Awareness Month was founded 17 years ago to bring attention to the importance of cybersecurity across America. The month encourages individuals and organizations to play their part and take proactive steps towards enhancing their cybersecurity. Over the last few years, cybersecurity has marked its position as one of the fastest growing areas in technology. This growth has been triggered by major security breaches and events that have provided opportunity for innovation. Because of this growth and in honor of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we have identified the three biggest cyber milestones in the last five years and their impacts.
The first major milestone is the OPM (United States Office of Personal Management) Hack, which took place in 2015. During the OPM Hack, tons of background investigation records of federal employees were stolen. This includes 21.5 million social security numbers along with fingerprints and password. This was not the only issue the OPM had with cybersecurity. Earlier that year the organization discovered that the information of 4.2 million current and former federal employee data was stole in the forms of full names, birth dates home addresses and Social Security Numbers. The OPM Hack has been named one of the largest government data breaches in the U.S. The impact of this event resulted in a call-to-action for CSOs to embrace stricter cybersecurity measures.
The next cybersecurity milestone takes us back three years to 2017. In late September of 2017, Equifax reported that cybercriminals accessed the credit card numbers and other customer personal information from over 200,000 individuals. Some other sensitive information accessed include names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and even driver’s licenses. This event is the largest data breach of credit card information to date. The impact was so severe that Equifax CEO, Richard Smith, had to resign.
The final major event in U.S. history that marks a huge milestone in cybersecurity is one that we are currently living through, the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has impacted cybersecurity in several ways. To start, cyber professionals reported a 63% increase in cyber-attacks since the beginning of the pandemic. Furthermore, 70% of organizations are set to increase cybersecurity spending. Switching to a remote work environment and increased reliance on technology caused individuals and organizations to pay more attention to making sure their systems are secure. The impact of this pandemic will force organizations to invest in resources that will promote good cyber hygiene.
The cybersecurity industry is one that is quickly growing. Over the last five years, America has experienced several large-scale security breaches that have led to greater attention towards better cybersecurity. Over the next few years experts are predicting a huge incline in cybersecurity, opening the door to even more cyber milestones.