By William Jackson
Assistant Homeland Security Secretary Greg Garcia kicked off the fifth
annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month by saying that the
government's IT systems are safer this year than when he joined the
department two years ago.
"They are more secure, and they are going to get more secure," he said
Thursday at the launch event in Washington. "There is always more to
Garcia cited a number of areas of progress, including implementation of
elements of the president's Cyber Initiative, announced early this year.
The initiative, much of which is classified, focuses on hardening
government networks to provide a front line of defense, improving cyber
intelligence through information gathering and sharing, and research and
development of next-generation security tools. DHS has been given a lead
role in protecting government systems.
"We have made notable progress in each of these areas," he said. But he
added, "there is no room for complacency; there is no excuse for
Combating complacency and ignorance is the goal of National Cyber
Security Awareness Month, a joint program of the DHS National Cyber
Security Division and the National Cyber Security Alliance, an
organization of public, private and academic sector experts. Together
they sponsor online and other activities geared at raising awareness
among consumers and home users, as well as businesses.
Garcia cited some significant changes in the cyber environment since the
first awareness month was declared in 2004. At that time a survey showed
that one third of respondents thought there was a better chance of being
struck by lightning than of being the victim of a hacker, and spam was
the biggest online concern of corporations. Spam and lightning are still
with us, but few computer users are unaware today of the threat posed by
malicious code, hackers and online criminals.
"Cyber security has become a major concern," Garcia said. "The next step
is to make it a major priority."
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