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Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2023:
Secure Our World

Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and to ensure that all Americans have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online. Each October, University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) and its Center for Security Studies (CSS) proudly champion and celebrate this essential online safety, awareness, and education initiative.

October 2023 marks 20 years of Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This year's  theme—“Secure Our World”—highlights important behaviors and practices we can implement to protect our data online and become more responsible digital citizens in our personal, social, and professional lives.

Each year, in conjunction with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA), UMGC and the CSS support Cybersecurity Awareness Month by hosting informative and engaging speakers and panelists to champion online safety, awareness, and education. Through this month's awareness events, we encourage you to practice these simple but effective cybersecurity basics:

  • Use strong passwords and a password manager
  • Turn on multifactor authentication
  • Recognize and report phishing
  • Update your software

October 2023 Cybersecurity Awareness Month Events

See below for descriptions and registration information for this month's events. We have highlighted UMGC-hosted events as well as relevant events from leading cybersecurity organizations participating in Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2023.

Cybersecurity Here and Beyond!

As 2023 draws to a close, we commemorate 20 years of Cybersecurity Awareness Month! In honor of this milestone, our presenters looked at how far security education and awareness has come in that time, and where it needs to go to fulfill our vision of a secure interconnected world. Our expert panel of UMGC experts included:

  • James Roberston, program director, cyber devops
  • Patrick Appiah-Kubi, program director, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and computer networking
  • Jesse Varsalone, collegiate associate professor, cybersecurity technology

This event took place Thursday, Oct. 12, Noon–1 p.m. ET online via Zoom.

Pen Testing/Hacking IoT Devices

Jesse Varsalone, UMGC collegiate associate professor in cybersecurity technology, hosted a "Tech Talk" presentation on penetration testing of ICS/SCADA/IoT devices. After exploiting the device, Varsalone reviewed artifacts left by the attacker and discussed remediation techniques to secure these types of devices.

The event was hosted by MISI, a Maryland-based cybersecurity nonprofit, and took place Monday, Oct. 16, Noon–1 p.m. ET online via Zoom.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an approach to verifying user identity using at least one method of authentication. It is a security measure that acts as an extra layer of defense, preventing unauthorized users from accessing confidential information. Todd Pearce, manager of IT security operations at UMGC, discussed this important tool in securing user identities and access management.

This event took place Friday, Oct. 20, Noon–1 p.m. ET online via Zoom.

Hands-On Cybersecurity in K-12

Chuck Gardner, senior advisor for the Cyber Innovation Center, spoke about K-12 cybersecurity curriculum, resources, and activities for educators. This discussion centered on federally funded resources that are appropriate for high school teachers, K-8 teachers, instructors, and caregivers. Attendees learned how students can earn industry-based credentials before graduating from high school, including CompTIA Security+.

This event took place Wednesday, Oct. 25, Noon–1 p.m. ET online via Zoom.

Zero Trust Architecture

Dr. Aaron Drew—senior enterprise solutions architect in the Office of Information & Technology, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and UMGC adjunct associate professor—spoke about how the U.S. government aims to move toward "zero trust" cybersecurity principles to protect its supply chain technical environment. The discussion focused on the tools, technologies, and approaches that ultimately support this strategy.

This event took place Thursday, Nov. 2, Noon–1 p.m. ET online via Zoom.

Watch Full Cyber Presentations

Watch a selection of event recordings from Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2023: 

Level Up Your Cyber Game:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 3, 3–4 p.m. ET
  • Hosted by the NCA
  • Attendees joined us for a turbocharged webinar gameshow and tested their cyber skills! They took part in thrilling challenges and strategic quandaries and learned essential info and practical techniques to safeguard their digital lives.

20 Years of Cyber Awareness Month:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2–3:30 p.m. ET
  • Hosted by the NCA
  • We've come a long way in 20 years, but we still have more to do. We must secure technology, protect critical infrastructure, and bridge the cyber career gap. Event attendees joined elected officials, government leaders, and industry executives to examine the road ahead.

2023 USDA Cybersecurity Expo:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 3–Wednesday, Oct. 4, 10:30 a.m.–4 p.m. ET (both days)
  • Hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Event participants chose from more than 25 info sessions presented by industry experts. They learned about the development of the cyber workforce, AI, cyber modernization, and more.

NCA Cybersecurity Event:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 18, Noon–1 p.m. ET
  • Hosted by the NCA
  • Our expert panelists discussed public attitudes and beliefs about cybersecurity.

Maryland STEM Festival:

  • Oct. 13–Nov. 11
  • The Maryland STEM Festival is a month-long celebration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Attendees chose from hundreds of events throughout Maryland focused on fun, interactive STEM learning opportunities.

May 24, 2023 Event Recap: Kemba Walden on National Cybersecurity Strategy

UMGC's Center for Security Studies hosted an informative online webinar with Kemba Walden, Acting National Cyber Director in the White House's Office of the National Cyber Director. Walden brings a wealth of leadership experience, including high-level cybersecurity and legal roles at Microsoft, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency. She discussed a number of topics, including the cybersecurity workforce, digital literacy educational pipeline, and U.S. National Cybersecurity Strategy. More than 1,100 people attended online.