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Who is the Cybersecurity Smokey Bear?

PHILADELPHIA — Is there a Smokey Bear for cybersecurity? Maybe there should be, according to a federal cybersecurity official.

To raise public awareness about the threat of cyber crime, the government should use public service campaigns or perhaps a mascot to ingrain cybersecurity concerns into everyday culture, said Christopher Painter, special adviser to President Barack Obama for cybersecurity. Painter made his remarks at the Management of Change conference here, hosted by the American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council.

Painter cited the success of public service announcements such as the Click It or Ticket campaign to promote seat belt use and the Forest Service's Smokey Bear. Most people can quote Smokey's famous line: “Only you can prevent forest fires.” For cybersecurity, the mascot might say, "Hopefully you can protect your identity."

Many people still believe cyber crimes are something only big companies and banks have to deal with, Painter said. But as more financial transactions happen online, cybersecurity and identity management are becoming extremely important to making those transactions secure.

“Economics online favor the criminal right now," he added.

Posted by Matthew Weigelt on May 25, 2010 at 7:20 PM


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