New York State Designates October as Cybersecurity Awareness Month and Offers Free Resources for Small Businesses and New Yorkers

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has issued a proclamation designating October as Cybersecurity Awareness Month with a focus on helping small businesses and residents protect themselves from this growing threat.

As more aspects of our life go digital, cybersecurity is vital to prevent devastating and costly data breaches. New York is joining with national efforts in designating Cybersecurity Awareness Month to engage and educate the public about cybersecurity and is offering free tools and resources to help them stay safe online.

“Whether you’re a novice internet user or a tech savvy expert, cyberattacks pose a threat to all of us whenever we’re online,” Governor Hochul said. “This October, we are raising awareness for New Yorkers at all levels of the public and private sectors as we continue to lead the nation in aggressively combating evolving cybersecurity threats.”

The theme for the 19th annual Cybersecurity Awareness Month – “See Yourself in Cyber” – highlights the growing importance of cybersecurity and encourages individuals and organizations to take the necessary measures to protect themselves online, including using multi-factor authentication and strong passphrases.

Every organization is at risk of a computer hacking, but especially vulnerable are businesses that may be too small to have a dedicated cybersecurity staff.

That’s why New York’s Department of Financial Services has partnered with the non-profit Global Cyber Alliance (GCA) to provide a free cybersecurity toolkit to small businesses so they can protect themselves and their customers from growing cyber threats.

The cybersecurity toolkit will help businesses identify hardware and software, update defenses against cyber threats, strengthen passphrases and multi-factor authentication, back up and recover data, and protect email systems.

The free cybersecurity toolkit for small businesses and the DFS-developed sample cybersecurity policies can be found on the DFS website.

According to Governor Hochul’s Office, each week in Cybersecurity Awareness Month focuses on a different topic: 

  • Understanding and implementing basic cyber hygiene practices, including the creation of strong passphrases, using multi-factor authentication, performing software updates and backing up data.
  • Recognizing and reporting phishing attempts, whether they come through email, text messages, or chat boxes.
  • Empowering individuals to not only practice safe online behavior, but also consider joining in the mission to secure our online world by pursuing a career in cybersecurity.
  • Making cybersecurity a business priority by ensuring products and processes are “secure by design” and encouraging the consideration of cybersecurity when purchasing new internet-connected devices.

New York’s Office of Information Technology is also coordinating a statewide cybersecurity poster contest for children in kindergarten through 12th grade, a timely opportunity for teachers to focus on keeping children safe online in a fun and informative way.

Submissions are due Dec. 16, 2022. New York State winners will be featured on the ITS website and entered the national contest sponsored by the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center.

In addition, the agency provides a number of free resources to the public, including the Cybersecurity Awareness Toolkit, which includes cybersecurity-themed posters, calendars, brochures and other content that can be downloaded and shared to help promote and reinforce cyber safety themes in practical, informative, entertaining, and usable ways.

For more information, visit the ITS CISO website, follow the agency on Twitter (tag #NYSCyber) and Facebook.