A study released today by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) indicates that most Americans are genuinely concerned about online safety and security. Furthermore, according to the study, they recognize their responsibility to contribute to the Internet's overall security and are willing to take steps in that direction.
The biggest obstacle, perhaps unsurprisingly, is the lack of clear, concise instructions on what users should do to protect themselves. This is an area in which we, as an industry, have to improve. When you combine the complexity and diversity of available technologies with a lack of consistency around messaging, terminology, and visual symbols, it's no wonder that consumers are feeling confused.
The upcoming National Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign, which the NCSA and APWG are spearheading, should be a step in the right direction. It promises a unified messaging campaign to increase awareness nationwide, and perhaps even internationally. Of course, if this survey is any indication, this will be a challenge, as the issue isn't so much awareness of the problem, but rather awareness of the solution.
Over the coming months, StopBadware will be working with industry partners to help them do their part to protect consumers from badware. Part of this, undoubtedly, will be consumer education. Just as we (and, by extension, our partners like Google and Firefox) now offer webmasters specific tips on finding, removing, and preventing badware on their websites, we need to work together to present clear guidance for users on how to protect their computers, their handheld devices, and their online information.