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October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, a month dedicated to highlighting the importance of digital security and to reminding individuals and organizations alike to prioritize the protection of their digital assets and private, personal information. At SimSpace, our vision is to secure the infrastructure of the future. We honor our vision and Cybersecurity Awareness Month by looking at our industry’s history and best practices.

A Brief History of Cybersecurity

Reflecting on the history of cybersecurity, we can see how far we have come in terms of technological advancements and the corresponding rise in cyber threats. 

  • 1960s - The field of “computer security” first emerged, defined as the need to protect computer systems from unauthorized access.
  • 1970s - Hacking takes off with Creeper, the first known computer virus, which spread across ARPANET.
  • 1980s - The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) of 1986 is enacted in the US, which criminalizes unauthorized access to computers The first computer virus, Brain, is discovered the same year. This is also the decade that we see the first antivirus softwares.
  • 1990s - As the internet becomes widely available and accessible, cyber attack strategies and numbers both increase.
  • 2000s - Malware evolves and we begin to see Trojans, spyware, and phishing attacks. Large scale cyber attacks gain more attention.
  • 2010s - A rise in sophisticated attacks, such as Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), target governments and organizations and major breaches like Target (2013) and Equifax (2017) highlight the importance of cybersecurity.
  • 2020s (Present) - Security threats are at an all time high: supply chain vulnerabilities, social engineering, and advancements in technology like AI and machine learning make launching attacks easier everyday.

Cybersecurity Best Practices

From simple viruses and malware to sophisticated hacking techniques, cybersecurity has become an integral part of our daily lives. In today's hyper-connected world, understanding and implementing best practices is crucial. Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility — individuals, teams, and organizations all play a role. By incorporating security measures into your digital routine, you can significantly reduce the chances of falling victim to cyber threats and ensure a safer online experience. Best practices include:

  • Strong, Unique Passwords - Use complex passwords that include a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. The longer the password, the harder it is to crack. Consider using a password manager for long and unique passwords for each service you use.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) - MFA typically involves using a second form of authentication, like a code sent to your phone.
  • Software Updates and Patching - Keep operating systems, applications, and antivirus software up to date to ensure you have the latest security patches.
  • Secure Wi-Fi Networks - Change default router passwords, use strong encryption (WPA2 or higher), and avoid sharing your Wi-Fi password with unauthorized users. Be cautious when connecting to and using public or unsecured networks.
  • Data Encryption - Encrypt sensitive data, both in transit (using protocols like HTTPS) and at rest (using encryption tools or built-in features of operating systems).
  • Awareness Training - Educate yourself and your team about common cyber threats like phishing, social engineering, and malware.
  • Regular Backups - Backup important data regularly and store it securely in case of a ransomware attack or hardware failure.
  • Limit Access Privileges - Only provide access to data and systems that are necessary for an individual's role. 
  • Vigilance Against Phishing - Be cautious when clicking on links or downloading attachments from unfamiliar or suspicious sources. Verify the sender's legitimacy.
  • Incident Response Plan - Develop a plan for responding to a cybersecurity incident, including steps for containment, eradication, recovery, and lessons learned. Using a cyber range allows individuals and teams to go further and do live practice in a safe, simulated environment.
  • Secure Physical Access - Limit physical access to servers and network equipment to authorized personnel only.
  • Regular Security Audits and Assessments - Conduct periodic security assessments to identify vulnerabilities and areas for improvement.

Cyber Ranges for Cybersecurity

One effective way to enhance cybersecurity knowledge is through the use of cyber ranges like the SimSpace Cyber Force Platform. Cyber ranges allow for the creation of replicated and simulated environments which allow individuals and teams to practice defending against various cyberattacks in a controlled setting. By gaining hands-on experience, one can develop practical skills and learn how to effectively respond to different scenarios.

Cyber ranges allow organizations to assess individual and team performances through live-fire exercise. These events help leadership see where team members excel and where they have areas to improve. Finding (and addressing) vulnerabilities in your team, environment, or processes before in practice is far better than during a live incident.

Sophisticated cyber ranges such as the SimSpace Cyber Force Platform provide more than just a sandbox to practice in — they provide training courses to up-skill users. SimSpace has over 1,000 content modules, including scenarios replicating the latest threats and cyberattacks.

Final Thoughts

As we observe Cybersecurity Awareness Month over the next few weeks, let us all take a proactive approach towards protecting ourselves online. By staying informed about best security practices and leveraging tools such as cyber ranges, we can collectively create a safer digital landscape for everyone.

Blog byBridget Mohney
Bridget Mohney
Bridget Mohney
Bridget Mohney is the Marketing Program Manager at SimSpace Corporation where she is responsible for project management, field marketing, and team operations. She brings years of technology and cybersecurity marketing experience to the team. Bridget holds a Bachelor's in History from the University of Virginia.