Homeland Security names winners in cybersecurity contest

Competition is part of the agency's larger cyber awareness campaign.

The Homeland Security Department on Monday announced the three winners of a contest to spread the word about safe Internet practices.

A part of Homeland Security's National Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign and the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, the Stop.Think.Connect. competition challenged participants to design public service announcements educating citizens on appropriate protective measures to guard against hackers and other threats.

Homeland Security also announced the launch of the Stop.Think.Connect. website at the event.

DHS announced the contest in November 2010 through a video uploaded to its YouTube channel, calling on individuals, nonprofit organizations and corporations to submit videos that would encourage their fellow citizens to be safe and secure online.

Children from the Boys and Girls Club of America and DARE of America attended the White House event alongside representatives from the National Cybersecurity Alliance.

White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt emphasized that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility among all groups and individuals and praised the winning submissions.

"Today's winners have done way more than I ever thought would happen," Schmidt said.

The three winners' PSAs delivered several messages targeted at teens, young adults and parents. The Woes of Wi-Fi, submitted by three students from Dakota State University, demonstrated the importance of using a secure online network. The nonprofit Stop Child Predators focused its PSA -- Names Hurt -- on cyber bullying, while Microsoft, a partner with the National Cybersecurity Alliance, provided a general overview of the Stop.Think.Connect. campaign.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke spoke about the broader efforts to educate the public on cybersecurity. Experts expect online transactions will exceed $24 trillion by 2020, he said, adding 67,000 new threats emerge daily on the Internet. Locke also called attention to the other components of NICE, which include bolstering formal cybersecurity education at colleges and universities, and strengthening and developing and the nation's current cybersecurity workforce.

"Consumers simply want to know their personal information is going to be safe from cyber theft and phishing attacks. They must have trust in the Internet to ensure the Web remains a platform for innovation and economic growth," Locke said. "With greater outreach and education we can help minimize the risk of online fraud and crime, and better protect consumers and businesses."

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano directed her remarks at the children in the audience. "Our culture is changing," she said. "You are the reason Stop.Think.Connect. was created. We're going to give you the information to protect yourselves."

"Woes of Wifi" :

"Names Hurt" :

Microsoft's submission: