Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2023

October marks the Cybersecurity Awareness Month, an initiative originated in the United States in 2004, and later swelled around the world, with the primary objective of educating both individuals and organizations about the paramount significance of cybersecurity. This campaign endeavours to underline the perils associated with online safety and security negligence, while at the same time offering essential resources to facilitate the protection of organizations and individuals in the digital domain. 

The National Cybersecurity Coordination Centre for Malta (NCC-MT) under the realm of MITA, emphasizes, more enthusiastically than ever, the critical nature of online safety. It is imperative for everyone to remain vigilant against the ever evolving and increasingly sophisticated landscape of cyber threats. The consequences of falling victim to a cyberattack are severe and far-reaching, impacting both organizations and individuals. The consequences extend from substantial financial losses to enduring psychological distress. The harm inflicted can be substantial, often proving difficult to recover from.  

It is important to recognize that the repercussions of cyberattacks extend beyond the immediate victim. If these threats are not effectively mitigated, they can propagate like wildfire, affecting other organizations and individuals. In the most extreme cases, cyberattacks have the potential to disrupt an entire nation, as evidenced by the notorious massive cyber-attack on Estonia in 2007. This serves as a glaring reminder of the cascading effects that can ensue if cybersecurity measures are not diligently upheld. 

In the present landscape, it is imperative for both individuals and organizations to recognize the prevalent presence of AI in cyberattacks. This acknowledgment is crucial, as it underscores the undeniable fact that artificial intelligence is being harnessed with increasing frequency by malicious actors to orchestrate cyber intrusions. Furthermore, it is of paramount importance to understand that succumbing to such AI-driven attacks has become remarkably effortless in our interconnected world. 

In the spirit of fostering a heightened awareness of cybersecurity during the month of October, NCC-MT has embarked on a mission aimed at strengthening the digital defences of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Malta named CYBER+ALT ‘Agħżel Li Tipproteġi’. This scheme is an innovative initiative designed to empower SMEs with the tools and knowledge necessary to fortify their cybersecurity measures. The ultimate goal is to instill these enterprises with the confidence and resilience required to navigate the ever-evolving cyber domain effectively. 

The significance of this scheme extends far beyond the individual SMEs it seeks to assist. By enhancing the cybersecurity posture of these organizations, it contributes to the broader safeguarding of the Maltese cyber realm. In doing so, it plays a pivotal role in protecting not only the digital infrastructure and valuable assets of these enterprises but also safeguards the integrity of the entire Maltese economy. Furthermore, it ensures the well-being and security of the island’s citizens, affirming that the digital space remains a safe and reliable environment for all. 

SMEs are strongly encouraged to seize the opportunity presented by this scheme and actively implement cybersecurity countermeasures. By doing so, we collectively contribute to the preservation of a secure cyber environment.  

Full information on the scheme is available on the NCC-MT website – The scheme will remain open until 29th December 2023, or an earlier date depending on absorption of the total budget of €2,000,000. Grants shall be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to budget availability.  Applications can only be submitted online through the dedicated NCC Funding Application Portal accessible from Queries can be directed to the NCC-MT on [email protected]. The NCC-MT is also collaborating with Servizzi Ewropej f’Malta (SEM) to handle queries specifically related to the online application on [email protected]. 

This article is co-founded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Cybersecurity Competence Centre. Neither the European Union nor the European Cybersecurity Competence Centre can be held responsible for them.