The Cyber Security Civic Duty

“The National Cyber Security Alliance is a model public-private-partnership where we are literally going out and trying to talk to 360 million Americans in 50-states and six territories about cybersecurity and emerging technologies,” states Kelvin Coleman, Executive Director of the NCSA. His statement aligns with the mission of the NCSA, which is “To educate and empower our global digital society to use the internet safely and securely.”

The above interview was filmed fresh after Coleman’s comments to a group of Santa Clara University students, faculty, and industry professionals regarding the cybersecurity challenges posed by various types of bad actors. A central theme of his talk is that each person, regardless of age, needs to take responsibility if we are to have a secure and safe online world collectively.

To build a culture of cybersecurity, training has to start at a young age and should be a part of good civics education (e.g. see NCSA’s school resource page). It requires businesses, small or large to integrate cybersecurity into the company culture. Along these lines, NCSA is helping educate small businesses through webinars, on-site workshops, and print materials (e.g., NCSA’s business page).

Coleman points out that the NCSA partners to leverage its message through what Coleman refers to as force multipliers (e.g., these Champions). These partnerships range from AARP to school districts to major corporations (e.g. Comcast, Facebook, and Mastercard are examples of board representatives). Data Privacy Day and National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) are a couple of their marquee efforts to help raise awareness and remind people of the need to be diligent about their cyber hygiene.

Coleman is the perfect leader for this organization as his professional background straddles the public and private worlds, having worked in various government and corporate organizations such as the White House, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and FireEye. He reminds us that cybersecurity is a journey and that, as much as progress has been made, “We have a ways to go, still.”

One response to “The Cyber Security Civic Duty”

  1. Ken Pyle Avatar

    An important point brought out in the discussion portion of Coleman’s earlier talk is that cyber security in not a basic requirement to graduate with a computer hardware or software degree. The issue is that the accreditation agencies have not included it in their requirements, as it takes awhile for them to adjust to market realities. This seems like a huge gap in training the next generation of engineers and that it is effectively saying to students that security is secondary (which it often is, as evidenced by the many different ways products and software are regularly breached).

    The mindset of security as secondary may have been OK before everything was connected, but this has got to change if we are going to minimize destruction from the bad actors of the world.

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