A coalition of government, industry and non-profit organizations launched a campaign this week that aims to get people thinking before they engage in potentially risky activity online. According to the group that designed the campaign, its message is intended to be simple but effective and easily understood and implemented. The goal is for it to take its place among other popular safety slogans such as "Look Both Ways Before Crossing the Street" and "Stop, Look and Listen."
The message, 'Stop. Think. Connect.', was created by the Online Consumer Security and Safety Messaging Convention, a group organized by the National Cyber Security Alliance, the Anti-Phishing Working Group, industry leaders, government agencies, and nonprofits.
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"It is a simple, actionable message that applies to everyone as we connect to the Internet from an array of devices, including laptops, personal computers, smart phones and gaming consoles," said NCSA Executive Director Michael Kaiser.
The campaign is the result of a mandate from President Barack Obama's Cyberspace Policy Review, which in May 2009 called for the creation of a national public awareness campaign focused on cyber security. At that time, the White House said an online safety campaign was needed that had the same level of effectiveness as the "Click It or Ticket" campaign for seatbelt safety. (Related: Security awareness programs: Now hear this!).
The coalition selected the 'Stop. Think. Connect.' message after a yearlong process of meetings, research, focus groups, opinion polling and industry and government collaboration.
The effort to create a memorable slogan comes at a critical time, according to Robert Myles, AVP of information security & CISO at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
"I saw another recently that was "Think before you click" and had a picture of a computer mouse," said Myles. "This is a much needed awareness campaign, needs to be tied into mobile platforms and include social media. Is that post worth your future career? I don't believe that the youth of the world, and especially America, pause to consider this."
"I really like the use of the word "think" in the slogan," said Dale Rapp, an application technical support manager at Parkway School District in St. Louis, who has been working on security initiative, general policy, and awareness program in the district. "Most people while using a computer and nowadays a smartphone just click away with no thought to what they are doing. People need to "think" before clicking. Would Aunt Sally send that link to the most hilarious video on Facebook? Would my mom really send a zip file attachment? Why does my bank need to verify my account numbers? Why does Ebay need my user name and password?"
Members of the coalition that created the slogan are promoting the awareness campaign in different ways. Examples include:
-Facebook, which has developed a "Stop. Think. Connect." security quiz that will be hosted on the Facebook Security Page. People who take the quiz will be able to test their knowledge and learn best practices for staying safe and secure online. After completing the quiz, they'll be able to post a badge to their Facebook Wall and share tips with their friends.
-AT&T, which will feature the campaign on its consumer bill page and att.net homepage during the month of October. The att.net homepage will direct subscribers to AT&T's online safety website for more information and tools.
-EMC and it's security division, RSA, which has hundreds of employee volunteers who plan to dedicate a month of service in classrooms and youth groups by teaching school-age children in 22 states and 6 countries about safe and responsible online behavior using the NCSA's Cyber Security Awareness Volunteer Education (C-SAVE) curriculum.