STOP . THINK . CONNECT.: The first global online safety campaign launches today

Oct 4, 2010 10:53am

By Michael Kaiser, NCSA Executive Director

Today, at the launch of national Cybersecurity Awareness Month, an unprecedented coalition of government, industry and non-profit organizations launched the first-ever public awareness campaign for online safety: “STOP. THINK. CONNECT." With broad adoption by Government, led by Department of Homeland Security and industry, the new message will  quickly reach millions across the globe through a variety of online and offline marketing, advertising and editorial campaigns.

We unveiled “STOP. THINK. CONNECT.” in Seattle at the kick-off of National Cyber Security Awareness Month with the Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator White House, Howard Schmidt, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute as well as other industry and nonprofit leaders. The launch today represented the public private partnership that worked hand-in-hand to bring the effort to fruition.

With the unified message, the goal is to help all digital citizens employ universal behaviors to protect themselves, no matter what they are doing online or how they are connecting to the Internet. We hope this will lead to a culture of cyber awareness in which online safety steps become second nature in our daily lives.

“STOP. THINK. CONNECT. is about taking a moment to stop and think about the places we visit online, the information that we share, and the communities in which we participate before and while we are connected to the Internet. It’s a message that applies to everyone personally and speaks to individual control, but at the same time it extends a bridge from the individual to the global online community.

The coalition arrived at the unified message after a yearlong process of research, focus groups, opinion polling, and government-industry collaboration. The research, conducted by Heart + Mind Strategies, revealed that consumers are concerned about their own personal online security and safety – and are ready to learn. They crave personal control and positive reinforcement that online safety is something they can personally manage, and they seek information that’s actionable and easy to understand

While they feel taking action to be more safe and secure online is important for themselves and their family, they also feel it’s important as a global citizen: that their individual actions make the online community safer for everyone else around the world.

President Obama called for a public awareness campaign in his Cyberspace Policy Review in May 2009, recognizing the need for a simple, actionable message that could help change public behavior in the same way the “Smokey Bear” campaign educated Americans on forest fire prevention and “Click It or Ticket” on seatbelt safety.

We are of course thrilled that the President has recognized “STOP. THINK. CONNECT.” in his proclamation officially declaring October “National Cyber Security Awareness Month.”

With the message, the coalition aims to make a big cultural change. We all know that online safety is an important global message. Yet, online safety had not been elevated within the cultural conscience as a major public safety issue in the same way as the environment, public health, and safe driving.  “STOP. THINK. CONNECT.” and the resulting awareness campaign want to change that.

Help us spread the word.  Join the conversation on our Facebook page and tweet about “STOP. THINK. CONNECT.” using these hashtags: #STConnect and #NCSAM.

SSO ( Stay Safe Online)