By Lonnie Price
From cleverly crafted emails designed to fool users into sharing personal information to foreign adversaries targeting program officials to steal sensitive information on major diplomatic initiatives, every day the Department of State’s information and global network assets are under assault by sophisticated cyber adversaries determined to cause physical harm, political embarrassment or gain an unfair advantage in international negotiations. This struggle to protect people and information repeats itself daily across government, and last month’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) served as an important reminder to ensure that all federal employees and contractors know how to detect, react and respond to cyberattacks.
October 2019 marked the 16th year of NCSAM led by the Department of Homeland Security. The goals of NCSAM are to collaborate efforts between the government and industry in raising awareness of the importance of cybersecurity and to ensure that all Americans have the resources they require to be safer and more secure online. The Department was once again named a Stay Safe Online NCSAM champion, which represents its true dedication to promoting a more trusted internet.
To commemorate this year’s NCSAM, the Directorate of Cyber and Technology Security, the Directorate of Information Assurance and offices across the Department led cybersecurity activities domestically and overseas. Using a dedicated NCSAM website and a variety of notices, social media posts, articles and educational materials, Department employees were reminded that they should be responsible online, use cyber best practices and stay vigilant against cyber threats. Abroad, posts promoted cybersecurity awareness by engaging with foreign governments, the private sector, academia and civil society on an array of cybersecurity-related issues through local partnerships and events.
The Department relies heavily on digital diplomacy to perform its mission, and this impact can be especially profound when working together to tackle universal issues of cyber resilience and the protection of data and critical infrastructure. As cyber threats and security challenges evolve, the Department continues to shape and enhance its cybersecurity culture around the world.
Lonnie Price is the deputy assistant secretary for the Directorate of Cyber and Technology Security.