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As another Cybersecurity Awareness Month kicks off, one of the questions we often hear and consider when building educational materials to help our customers stay safe online is “Does consumer education really make a difference?”
By Jenny Brinkley, Director, Amazon Security
To be sure, communicating about topics like cybersecurity is challenging due to the nature of the topic. Changing behaviors is even harder. Most consumers are not technical experts, nor should we expect them to be. And yet, consumers play a critical role in keeping their own information secure and safe. And beyond that, every employee of every organization that is tasked with protecting any kind data is also a consumer, so the impact of security awareness in fact goes far beyond the consumer.
Recently, Amazon launched a cybersecurity awareness public service announcement (PSA) campaign, Protect & Connect, in collaboration with the National Cybersecurity Alliance. One of the key tenets of the campaign was the idea of “personal agency,” or the belief that a person is able to influence his or her actions and life circumstances.
It can be easy to dismiss cybersecurity as the responsibility of companies and security experts—and it is. At Amazon, for example, we employ thousands of security professionals whose sole mission is protecting customer data. However, the latest industry figures are clear and consistent—98% of cyberattacks rely on social engineering tactics, like phishing, to deceive or manipulate individuals into divulging confidential or personal information, sometimes with devastating consequences not just for the individual but for the companies and customers that they are connected to.
With that context, it’s clear that protecting consumers includes thinking bigger on programs and educational materials that are informative and actionable. Staying safe online is not only the domain of security engineers, but for me, for you, your loved ones, your dentist, your school administrators, your child care providers — everyone. In the Protect & Connect PSA, we created a concept focused on “Internet Bodyguards.” While action stars Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson brought that idea to life in a fun and entertaining way, the key message is that everyone can be their own internet bodyguard. Everyone has the power to stay safe online and it’s easy to do.
In the words of the Protect & Connect Internet Genie, “You have the power to protect yourself and the ones you love when it comes to cybersecurity. You always have!” There are simple steps that everyone can take to be safer online, like staying consistent on software updates for your connected devices, using strong passwords, using multifactor authentication (MFA) on all your accounts where possible, and being on the lookout for phishing attempts.
There’s no question that consumer education makes a difference, and Amazon is proud to support the National Cybersecurity Alliance in October and beyond to bring the message of personal agency to people around the world.
Jenny Brinkley is a Director in Amazon’s Security Organization where she partners with leaders across Amazon to prioritize security best practices and expectations leveraging education and awareness to set a shared security bar. Under her leadership, Amazon released its internal security awareness training for free to business and individuals around the world at https://learnsecurity.amazon.com.