Embracing the Power of Opportunity During Cyber Security Awareness Month: Stop. Think. Connect.

Posted on by Sandra Toms

connectivityOctober marks National Cyber Security Awareness Month: a great opportunity for all of us to take a moment to think about how we are protecting ourselves in this increasingly connected world. This reminder applies to everyone: from the CISO, to the college student interested in exploring a career in the security industry, to the mom curious how to bridge a conversation with her children about being safe online. As security professionals, by nature, our lives are saturated with information. We are constantly on the lookout for a new solution that is better than the last – looking forward, gazing beyond the horizon to anticipate what’s coming next.

Each year during RSA Conference, leaders from around the world come together to talk security. We gather to share best practices, challenge each other, and discover new products to keep our organizations safe from cyber attacks. In 2017 we’ll gather around the theme Power of Opportunity, highlighting the inclusive atmosphere of sharing and exploration necessary for our industry to join together to tackle larger issues beyond what we face in our everyday jobs. Opportunity really is a powerful thing. It opens the door and invites all inside to reimagine and reinvent. It allows us to come together as a whole to collaborate on new innovations. It encourages everyone to embrace new and unique perspectives from a diverse base of people and sources. And it allows for a dynamic exchange of ideas amongst peers. So with the start of National Cyber Security Awareness month, RSA Conference encourages you to seize this opportunity to really stop, think and connect.


Our lives are fast-paced, and sometimes it feels impossible to slow down – let alone stop. However, stopping is at the core of what security is. We are working to stop cyber attacks, stop data breaches, stop intrusions into critical systems that could compromise our organization’s health and compromise private details. But stopping goes beyond preventing cyber criminals from a malicious attack. It cultivates a situation where you can look at things differently and examine a problem from a new perspective. Pushing pause can be a critical first step before really diving into the examination process.


It may seem obvious, but tackling a problem correctly requires critically thinking about it from all angles. All too often we dive into something headfirst, using what worked for us in the past to put a band aide on the issue. Taking the time to really think about a problem allows us to get to the root cause. Deep contemplation is where the magic really happens; it’s what sparks that little nugget that grows into something we now can’t imagine living without. Critical thinking provides an opportunity to identify a vulnerability or notice something that isn’t quite right.


Connection is at the heart of RSA Conference. By gathering the world’s top cyber security professionals together in one place, we foster those deep, personal connections that often prove to be critical in the future. Bringing together a diverse group really opens the dialogue to expand the conversation in ways never previously considered to reach the best possible conclusion. And finally connecting those puzzle pieces or bridging a gap between items previously believed to have no connection at all is what brings about true, unique innovation.

Beyond your time at work, Cyber Security Awareness month is a good opportunity to make the connection at home, and talk to your kids, nieces and nephews about how to be safe online. I did. This was a big year for my son – he was able to get his first smart phone. Along with the phone, came a contract about proper usage. We discussed the contract, and he understands his phone usage is a privilege, not a right. And because we connected early on about this contract, we’ve never had a misunderstanding with his phone. While a written contract may be too formal for some, make sure you provide guidelines – they didn’t ride a bike without first having training wheels and your steady had on the bike. Similarly, they didn’t learn to drive a car without instruction and rules.

Every day, all of us are working to tackle the ongoing security challenges we face. Collaboration, information and an open dialogue are some of the best tools we can utilize to keep ourselves safe both at work and personally. So as you move throughout your day – both at work and in your day-to-day life – search for those moments where you can stop, think and connect.

Sandra Toms

Vice President and Curator, RSA Conference

security awareness

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