FTC Launches Internet Security Initiative

Commissioner Orson Swindle Calls for the Creation of a "Culture of Security"

For Release

Federal Trade Commissioner Orson Swindle today launched the FTC's new Internet security initiative at the Privacy2002 Conference in Cleveland, Ohio. The Commissioner detailed a "culture of security," in which consumers, educators, and businesses combine forces to change the way society thinks about privacy and security. With dependence on technology growing, Swindle emphasized that the benefits consumers and businesses enjoy may have potential security problems. "The idea is to have Internet security practices become second nature - just like looking both ways before crossing the street," Swindle said.

Swindle assured conference participants that he is not advocating alarm, but caution. By becoming more aware of potential problems and proactively adopting security promotion practices, users can securely continue to travel the Information Superhighway. Among Swindle's suggestions for developing a "culture of security" are workshops for employees, and computer security lessons in classrooms.

Swindle also unveiled the FTC's security information Web site that contains online safety resources for consumers and businesses alike. The site is easy to navigate and features "Dewie the Turtle," a colorful cartoon mascot for the FTC's initiative. The Web site also includes numerous consumer education publications in both English and Spanish.

"We want businesses and consumers to take the tips that Dewie offers and use them," said Swindle. "For example, companies could put them in newsletters to employees and kids could show their parents and grandparents how to 'stay safe online.' Developing a culture of security has never been more important, and with the help of Dewie it's never been easier."

In December 2001, Commissioner Orson Swindle became head of the U.S. government delegation to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Experts Group for review of the 1992 Guidelines for Security of Information Systems and Networks. The U.S. government delegation included the FTC and the Departments of Commerce, State, Justice, and Treasury.

Swindle explained that the resulting OECD Guidelines for the Security of Information Systems and Networks (http://www.oecd.org/EN/document/0..EN-document-0-nodirectorate-no-12-33186-0.00.html) consist of nine principles that aim at increasing public awareness, education, information sharing, and training that can lead to better online security through the adoption of best practices for safe computing. Although the Guidelines are voluntary, they represent a consensus among all 30 OECD governments that everyone has a role to play in promoting online security.

The Guidelines encourage governments in OECD member and non-member countries to promote a new way of thinking, a culture of security regarding protecting vital information systems and networks . They encourage businesses to factor security into the design and use of their systems and networks as well as provide security information and updates to users. The Guidelines urge all individual users to be aware of the potential vulnerabilities to personal computers online and the harm that can be done to those computers, systems and networks by poor security practices and the destructive actions of others. The Guidelines ask users to take personal responsibility for using sound security practices to lessen the security risks inherent in an interconnected world.

The FTC's security initiative and the Dewie Web site are practical extensions of those Guidelines. Dewie provides advice for computer users of all ages:

  • Protect yourself from viruses by installing anti-virus software and updating it regularly.
  • Make sure that your passwords have both letters and numbers, and are at least eight characters long.
  • Prevent unauthorized access to your computer through firewall software or hardware, especially if you are a high-speed user.
  • Don't open a file attached to an e-mail unless you are expecting it or know what it contains. If you send an attachment, type a message explaining what it is.
  • Report any unauthorized access to your computer through firewall software or hardware, especially if you are a high-speed user.

For additional tips, go to http://www.onguardonline.gov.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Contact Information

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