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DHS-Led National Cybersecurity Awareness Month Kicks Off

This year's awareness theme is 'Our Shared Responsibility'
WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today launched the 6th Annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) with an event in Washington, DC featuring DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and a wide variety of public, private and non-governmental organizations. National Cyber Security Awareness Month is a coordinated effort of the NCSA, DHS, and The Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MSISAC) and companies, schools, and nonprofit organizations around the country focused on online safety and security awareness and education for U.S. citizens and businesses.

As a digital society relying on the Internet for nearly everything from financial services to supply chain management to an increasingly smart electric grid, to name a few, America's ability to fortify the security of the Internet is critical to the nation's economic success, the government's ability to deliver critical services, and every American's access to information.

This month, in the spirit of this year's awareness theme Our Shared Responsibility, hundreds of federal, state and local government agencies, companies, non-profits and everyday citizens will deploy themselves to educate millions of Americans about the importance of online security to themselves, their towns, their states and their country.

According to a recent Forrester Research study, Americans on average spend 12 hours per week online and adults from the ages of 18 to 53 spend more than 16 hours per week online. Our reliance on a safe and secure online experience will only grow in upcoming years. Yet, with a recent NCSA/Symantec study finding that just 40% of Americans have had any formal type of online security or safety training, public education and awareness is our nation's frontline defense.

"This year, National Cyber Security Awareness Month will continue to focus on the simple message that all Americans share the responsibility for protecting the computers and networks they use." said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the NCSA. "Employing software tools and safe online behavior allows consumers, businesses and children to use the Internet with confidence and reap the benefits of participation in a digital society. As we raise consciousness about Internet security in October, we must remember cybersecurity requires vigilance 365 days a year."

The need for engaging and educating public was highlighted recently in President Obama's "Cyberspace Policy Review," which called for a national campaign to promote cybersecurity awareness and digital literacy and to build a digital workforce for the 21st century. National Cyber Security Awareness Month complements the President's public awareness priority by actively engaging public and private sector partners through events and initiatives to increase overall awareness about the steps everyone should take to minimize vulnerabilities.

"Public education and awareness is critical to helping Americans learn how to fully protect themselves online," said Tiffany Olson Jones, head of North and Latin American government affairs for Symantec. "Partnerships such as the NCSA that bring together the best and brightest within both the public and private sectors are necessary to ensure that the promised benefits of the Internet are realized."

The month of October will feature both organized and grass roots events as the NCSA focuses on reaching out to its four target audiences: Home computer users, small businesses, K-12 education and higher education.

NCSA activities in support of National Cyber Security Awareness Month include:

  • 2009 NCSA-Symantec Online Safety Study - The annual study focuses on the American's online security behaviors and attitudes on safety and security. Most importantly, the study is able to match American's perceptions of online security with the reality of what tools they are really using on their computers.

  • C-SAVE Volunteer Program - The Cyber Security Awareness Volunteer Education (C-SAVE) program continues this month as volunteers across the country will educate thousands of K-12 students about online safety and security. Our children are required to use the Internet for school assignments and homework every day yet only five states have specific cybersecurity and safety curriculum. C-SAVE is focused on filling that gap.

  • Cyber Security West - Government, business, leaders from across the country will convene in Sacramento, Ca. to focus on critical infrastructure protection, educating young people to become digital citizens, engaging small and medium sized enterprises, and the role of local government in cybersecurity.

  • Social media campaign to reach college-age computer users: NCSA is creating a series of Web videos on cybersecurity produced specifically for 17-25 year olds. The campaign will be distributed via social networking and other Websites as well as partnerships with colleges and universities across the country.

  • 2009 Small Business Online Security Study - For the first time NCSA, along with Symantec, will release a study focused on the cybersecurity concerns and practices of small and medium-size businesses.

  • National Broadcast and Radio Tour - Cybersecurity experts from across the country will be taking to the airwaves this month to provide tangible ways that Americans can protect themselves.

  • Government Proclamations and Endorsements: On September 30, U.S. Senate Resolution 285, which called for full support of the goals and ideals of NCSAM, was unanimously passed. In addition, 46 states have signed official proclamations in support of NCSAM and nearly 100 private companies and public entities have formally endorsed NCSAM.

  • Lesson plans for grades 7-12: Starting in October, the NCSA will be releasing lesson plans on cybersecurity for teachers across the country to teach young people about using the Internet securely and safely.

  • StaySafeOnline.org -- A user-friendly site provides a wealth of information focused on educating Americans and foster participation in NCSAM with materials for the month.

    A full calendar of NCSAM activities can be found at: www.staysafeonline.org/ncsam

    About The National Cyber Security Alliance The National Cyber Security Alliance is a nonprofit organization. Through collaboration with the government, corporate, nonprofit and academic sectors, the mission of the NCSA is to empower a digital citizenry to use the Internet securely and safely protecting themselves, the networks they use, and the cyber infrastructure. NCSA works to create a culture of cyber security and safety through education and awareness activities. Visit www.staysafeonline.org for more information.

    About National Cyber Security Awareness Month National Cyber Security Awareness month now in its 6th year is a coordinated effort of the National Cyber Security Alliance, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and The Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MSISAC). SOURCE National Cyber Security Alliance

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