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National Cyber Security Awareness Month: Do You Know Where Your Protection Is?

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month -- an official name for what every month should be. And, like every month, cyber-monickered or not, this month looks to be a bit worse than last on most security fronts. Raising cyber security awareness is more necessary than ever. Cyber Security Month may not be the way to do it.
October is Cyber Security Awareness Month -- an official name for what every month should be. And, like every month, cyber-monickered or not, this month looks to be a bit worse than last on most security fronts. Raising cyber security awareness is more necessary than ever. Cyber Security Month may not be the way to do it.Cyber Security Awareness Month (this is the fifth annual observance) is one of those multi-sponsored initiatives that sounds better than it looks. Literally.

Among the chief sponsors, the Department of Homeland Security's materials show as well anything what I mean.

Take a look, for example, at DHS's Awareness Month press release. There's good, if basic (install anti-virsuware, etc) stuff here, but the approach is all too bare-bones, here are the facts, here are a couple of links (DHS's National Cyber Security Division, for instance) and tips on how to be safer online, etc.

While part of me appreciates the minimalist approach -- especially in an age of increasingly overblown, over-produced, overload Web sites -- I also can't help thinking that putting up a press release isn't necessarily the most effective way of getting the public's attention (or the press's for that matter -- in terms of news stories this one isn't tracking close to old Lindsay Lohan news in terms of pickups, much less new Britney Spears dish.)

It's much the same on other Awareness sites; take a look at StaySafe Online from the National Cyber Security Alliance.

Again, good, straightforward presentation -- with absolutely nothing to excite or hold the public's attention. And, at least at this writing, dead-end links everywhere.

That last is an annoyance and an embarrassment: if ever there was a time for security information links not to be dead, it's during the opening days of National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

But even if the links were live -- and one hopes they will be soon -- the site takes a less than... compelling approach to letting people know how risky and threatening cyberspace can be (especially for their kids, and, on the small and midsized business front, your employees.

But no -- it's another boilerplate site, antithetical in so many ways to the some of the sorts of sites and online activities that kids and unprepared adults are being victimized by.

So how about a little cyber-pizazz for next year's Awareness Month? A little shock and surprise -- sites that raise awareness by grabbing surfers' eyes and minds and scaring them, really scaring them into learning something.

Or at least to pay a little attention.

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