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DHS Rolls Out Cybersecurity Campaign

The Department of Homeland Security has launched "Stop. Think. Connect." to encourage citizens and organizations to take responsibility for online safety.
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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is asking Americans to take responsibility for their own online safety and encourage others to do the same through a new cybersecurity awareness campaign.

Called Stop. Think. Connect., the campaign is an extension of existing DHS efforts to work with the private sector on cybersecurity strategies, according to a White House blog post by the Obama administration's cybersecurity coordinator, Howard A. Schmidt, in unveiling the effort.

"This campaign will enhance our efforts during October and beyond to educate, engage, and empower the American public to take charge of their safety and security online," he wrote in the post. "It will challenge the American public to be more vigilant about establishing smart habits that will lead to increased protection online."

Stop. Think. Connect. is part of October's Cyber Security Awareness Month 2010 and is the result of a collaboration between several special-interest groups -- including the Online Consumer Security and Safety Messaging Convention and the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) -- as well as government agencies, nonprofits, and industry leaders.

The DHS already has been working behind the scenes to collect and share information from and with the private sector to help it in its own efforts to protect U.S. critical infrastructure from cyber attacks. Stop. Think. Connect. brings that engagement to a more public venue and aims to get more people involved.

The DHS has launched two new avenues of public engagement through the new campaign. One is by participating in Cyber Citizen Forums the DHS is sponsoring with the National Centers of Academic Excellence, the agency said. These forums will be town-hall meetings held across the United States to foster dialogue about how average citizens can work to promote cybersecurity

An organization also can become a member of the Cyber Awareness Coalition the DHS has formed through Stop. Think. Connect. Public or private organizations can join at no cost to receive access to cybersecurity-awareness campaign materials, templates, and other resources to help them promote cybersecurity.

In his post Schmidt called the campaign "a universal call to action about cybersecurity awareness," and said he hopes it will help people consider online safety as "second nature" in their daily lives.

Even as the DHS tries to step up cybersecurity efforts, the administration was criticized in a recent report by the federal government's auditing agency for being slow to implement cybersecurity policy recommendations.

The Government Accountability Office report found that, more than a year after the administration issued the review that laid out the recommendations, only two of the 24 have been fully implemented, with only partial progress made on the other 22.

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