Be aware, stay secure

Sadly most of us only get serious about our security, cyber or otherwise, when we or someone close to us have a bad experience. And with cyber it’s worse. While the consequences of inadequate physical security have been clear from the time men lived in caves, cybersecurity has no such place in our collective psyche. That’s why we need to get behind initiatives like the European Cyber Security Month (ECSM).

October 2013 is European Cyber Security Month (ECSM), a European Union advocacy campaign which aims to promote cyber security among citizens, to change their perception of cyber-threats and provide up to date security information through education and sharing good practices.

Talking about ECSM 2013, Neelie Kroes said that “the dream to create a connected continent cannot be accomplished without trust and confidence in a secure digital realm”. I couldn’t agree more: a digitally-powered Europe can only be achieved if a genuine circle of trust exists among governments, citizens and ICT service providers.

DIGITALEUROPE is very happy to support this initiative from DG CONNECT and ENISA, and we will be an official partner of the European Commission throughout the whole month. We are dedicated to raising awareness and promoting a safe cyberspace to governments, business and citizens, and we want to play our part in this important campaign.

Part of our awareness-raising programme will include the ECSM talk co-organised with the European Commission during the official kickoff event for the campaign on 11 October. DIGITALEUROPE is also participating in the organisation of a conference hosted by the Communications Regulatory Authority of the Republic of Lithuania on 25 October, where cyber issues will be at the centre of the debate between MEPs, EU officials and industry representatives.

Cybersecurity is not confined to national borders and so I am particularly pleased that the ECSM coincides with the US Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Effective global cooperation underpins a safe internet. We are also committed to promoting the leading role of industry in cybersecurity. The Seoul Conference on Cyberspace will provide a good forum for information exchange between government and industry.

But cybersecurity is not just for governments and industry: the end-user must become a stronger player in the cyber game in order to improve security for all. Citizens must be aware of current risks and future threats, take an interest in this debate and learn how to develop good security habits.

We as individuals are the cornerstones of cybersecurity. In my view, cybersecurity goes beyond the obvious of protecting networks and preventing cybercrime. It must also include individual safe conduct on the net. Given the speed of technological progress – bear in mind that the smartphone boom only started in 2007 – we must each take on a greater role in keeping our cyber world secure.

I am glad to see that the European Commission has taken the initiative to dedicate one month to raising awareness about cybersecurity. But does this mean that our efforts should be put on hold for the next 11 months? If we want to stay secure, we must all be aware now and tomorrow.

John Higgins – Director General DIGITALEUROPE

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