DHS begins cybersecurity month with a common theme

In a first, the Department of Homeland Security launched its annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month from two cities at the same time: Washington, D.C. an...

By Max Cacas
Federal News Radio

Stop. Think. Connect.

That’s the motto for this year’s National Cyber Security Awareness month, according to Howard Schmidt, special assistant to the President, and cybersecurity coordinator for the White House.

Greg Schaeffer, DHS’s assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications, said the effort is more important than ever, because society as a whole is more dependent on computers and the Internet.

“For anyone under 30, it’s not a matter of going back to doing things the old way if these capabilities are interrupted,” he said. “For many, this is the way things have always been. There is no going back to another way of getting things done. When you have a conversation with a young person about a show not being on, they don’t understand what you’re talking about, shows are always on. When you talk to people about collaboration, those of us who are approaching 50 are talking about doing communications or simulcast among many people using video over the net. And young people are focused on the fact that their communications are available over Linked In, and over Facebook, and over other media that simply doesn’t have any analog analogue.”

Schaeffer addressed an invited audience of government and industry officials gathered at Lockheed Martin’s new conference center in Arlington, Va. In a first, DHS decided to launch Cybersecurity Awareness Month in two cities simultaneously.

Schmidt told the Seattle and Arlington attendees that the time has come to make cybersecurity “second nature, to America’s economic security,” because so much of the economy has grown accustomed to it.

Back in Arlington, Chris Painter, cybersecurity director for the National Security Council, said this month is part of the bigger national effort to boost the nation’s cybersecurity, including the recently-concluded Cyber Storm III global cybersecurity exercise organized by DHS; the National Cyber Security Incident Response Plan; the newly opened National Cyber Security Communications Information Center.

In Seattle, DHS Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute pressed a similar theme of making cybersecurity as much a part of the Internet experience as clicking a mouse.

“Security must be based on a framework in which individual users in which users in industry and government assume joint responsibility,” she said. “We can’t rely on single point solutions. And while we must move faster than we have today, we must also build a broad network, in which the rules are clear, the validation tools are easy to use, and accountability is enforced.”

Lute urged computer users to do a better job with maintaining their passwords, and backing up data more often as part of their own observance of Cybersecurity month.

Meanwhile, DHS says it is planning a number of other roll-out events for Cyber Security Awareness Month in other American cities over the next several weeks.

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