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The missing ingredient in cybersecurity

Many of the most common problems with cybersecurity could be alleviated if the federal government made a concerted effort to raise awareness and educate the public about the issues, says one expert.

There’s no getting around the fact that there are some sophisticated hackers out there looking to disrupt critical systems. But it’s also true that hackers often exploit some of the simplest vulnerabilities.

If the federal government were to put more energy into educating the public — including federal employees —- many of those security gaps could be closed, writes Robert B. Dix, vice president of government affairs at Juniper Networks and a former staff director for the House Government Reform Committee's Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census Subcommittee.

“It’s been estimated that as many as 80 percent of exploitable vulnerabilities would be mitigated with basic cybersecurity hygiene, such as patching, anti-virus updates, password management, and so on,” he writes in an article posted May 19. “These simple tasks do not require huge investments or large information technology staffs — but they do require greater awareness and education.”

Dix notes that President Barack Obama called for a national public awareness and education campaign as one of 10 short-term action items. That’s all fine and well, but “Who will lead that effort? Who will be the public face that raises awareness for home users, small business, non-profits, and computer users of all ages to improve their cyber hygiene and raise the bar of protection for all of us?”

Dix’s article is part of the FCW Challenge, a joint initiative of FCW.com and GovLoop intended to spark debate about key issues in the federal IT community. Click here to read the full article and share your thoughts. To learn more about the FCW Challenge, click here.

Posted by FCW Staff on May 19, 2010 at 12:18 PM


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