Cyber czar asks public to stop, think and connect

White House's Howard Schmidt announces marketing campaign that instructs Americans to take more responsibility guarding their privacy online.

Howard Schmidt, the federal cybersecurity czar, announced on Monday a publicity campaign that will instruct Americans to take responsibility for their own online safety.

The launch of the initiative "Stop. Think. Connect" coincides with the start of the 7th annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which the Homeland Security Department sponsors.

The new educational strategy casts cybersecurity as a shared responsibility among Internet users, industry and the government. Meanwhile, some privacy groups argue social networking websites and other online services place too much responsibility on consumers for protecting personal information.

DHS is steering the campaign, which consists of a program people can sign up for to conduct outreach activities in their communities; government-organized, real-world forums at community centers, town halls and colleges nationwide intended to stimulate discussion about threats and solutions; and a coalition open to public and private sector organizations that will disseminate templates and tips for publicizing cybersecurity.

A new website provides an online toolkit for interested participants that contains a fact sheet, PowerPoint presentation, check lists for planning cyber awareness events, graphics and specifications for printing promotional posters.

A 2009 cyberspace policy review tasked DHS with developing a campaign to build awareness of fraud, identity theft cyber predators, and cyber ethics. The nonprofit National Cyber Security Alliance; Anti-Phishing Working Group -- a global association; business leaders and government agencies collaborated tasked DHS to develop a campaign.

"National Cybersecurity Awareness Month provides a platform for those of us in government, at the federal, state, local levels, as well as our partners in the private sector, nonprofit, academia, and internationally to help further educate all Americans and the global Internet community about the importance of cybersecurity," Schmidt said. "It is our shared responsibility to create a safe, secure and resilient cyber environment."

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