October marks the annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). Since NCSAM’s launch in 2004, Symantec has worked as a founding member of the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCSA) to educate the public on ways to protect our computers, mobile devices, networks and the country’s cyber infrastructure and to make the most of Symantec’s comprehensive security software. NCSAM provides education campaigns targeted toward consumers, businesses, and academic institutions.
Last year as part of NCSAM, the STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ consumer campaign was launched:
STOP: Before you use the Internet, take time to understand the risks and learn how to spot potential problems.
THINK: Take a moment to be certain the path ahead is clear. Watch for warning signs and consider how your actions online could impact your safety, your family’s safety, or that of your colleagues.
CONNECT: Enjoy the Internet with greater confidence, knowing you’ve taken the right steps to safeguard yourself and your computer or mobile device.
This simple three step message is found on materials that promote the campaign, such as our own Norton Family Online Safety Guide.
The focus this year is on the needs of law enforcement, small businesses, and professional development including weekly communication, data and research findings in each of these critical areas. Symantec shares the NCSA’s focus on the needs of businesses, large and small, to better educate their workforce as a key strategy towards fighting cybercrime. Symantec and NCSA are co-sponsors of a new small business survey, with results to be released later this month. One early finding, cited in the NCSA’s press release, is that almost seven out of every ten small businesses recognize Internet security as a critical aspect of their business’ success.
The threats on the Internet continue to evolve. Cybercriminals focus on the places and devices we rely on the most and as a result we’ve seen an explosion of malware in social media, and micro blogging. Additionally, the Stuxnet worm depicts how vulnerable our physical infrastructure can be.
For many parents, their biggest Internet fear is "stranger danger" or their child sharing too much private information. But in fact, children are most likely to encounter malware and cyberbullying when online and thus it’s critical that parents continue to talk to their children regularly about their online lives and share strategies for being safe. Seventy percent of kids around the world report having had a negative online experience including downloading a virus, according to the 2010 Norton Online Family Report.
In a recently conducted 2011 Norton Cybercrime Report we found that cybercrime continues to be on the rise. An estimated 69 percent of adults around the globe have already been a victim of cybercrime at work and at home; the most common forms include malware, online scams and phishing. All of these threats are highly preventable, if only the consumers were better prepared to address the latest threats with education and security software.
Looking forward, we can expect to see many more forms of malware hit our most popular mobile devices. Already, ten percent of the respondents in our Cybercrime Report reported being a victim of mobile malware, most commonly as SMS phishing or “smishing.” A simple reply to the wrong text message may sign your account up for unwanted and expensive fraudulent services. Even after installing security software on your mobile device such as Norton Mobile Security, you still need to remember to STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™.
Marian Merritt is Symantec's Norton Internet Safety Advocate.