This is a guest post by Michael Kaiser. Michael is the executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). He engages diverse constituencies—business, government, other nonprofit organizations—in NCSA’s broad public education and outreach efforts to strengthen the nation’s cyber infrastructure, including leadership of NCSA’s premier outreach and awareness campaign, National Cyber Security Awareness Month.
Today marks the beginning of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), celebrated every October. NCSAM began in 2004 as a collaborative effort between government and industry to provide people with the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online. Since its inception, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) have led NCSAM, and the effort has grown exponentially, reaching consumers, small and medium-sized businesses, corporations, educational institutions, and young people across the United States and internationally. NCSA and DHS, along with APWG, also co-lead STOP. THINK. CONNECT., the global cyber security education and awareness campaign.
NCSAM 2014 will focus on our shared responsibility to secure the Internet. From connecting at our desks and homes to on-the-go, we work, learn, and play online. Even when we’re not directly connected, the vast critical infrastructure supporting our everyday lives impacts us all. If everyone does their part to secure the Internet by implementing stronger security practices, raising community awareness, and training employees and young people, we will become a safer digital society.
The Data Quality Campaign (DQC) is a valuable NSCA partner and has been a champion organization for both NCSAM and Data Privacy Day. DQC’s efforts to promote the safeguarding of student data reach the crucial populations of children and families and help to make the Internet safer and more secure for all digital citizens.
Each week in October we will focus on a different cyber security issue or theme; we encourage people and organizations to participate in the weeks that are most relevant to them and spread cyber security awareness throughout the month.
2014 Weekly Themes
Week 1 (Oct. 1–3): STOP. THINK. CONNECT.
Week 1 aims to raise online safety awareness among all Americans and reinforce STOP. THINK. CONNECT. and the simple measures everyone should take to be safer and more secure online.
Week 2 (Oct. 2–6): Secure Development of IT Products
Building security into information technology products is key to enhanced online safety. Security is an essential element of software design, development, testing, and maintenance.
Week 3 (Oct. 13–17): Critical Infrastructure and the Internet of Things The systems that support electricity, financial services, transportation, and communications are increasingly interconnected. The “Internet of things”—the ability of objects and devices to transfer data—is changing how we use technology. Week 3 highlights the importance of protecting critical infrastructure and properly securing all devices that are connected to the Internet.
Week 4 (Oct. 20–24): Cyber Security for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses and Entrepreneurs
Small and medium-sized businesses are an important part of our nation’s economy, but they often do not see themselves as targets for cybercrime. Strong cyber security practices are vital for both new and established businesses. This week will focus on what businesses and entrepreneurs can do to protect their organizations, customers, and employees, and cyber security as a business opportunity.
Week 5 (Oct. 27–31): Cybercrime and Law Enforcement
This week will help draw awareness to cybercrime and educate law enforcement officers about how to assist their communities in combating cybercrime. It will also educate the general public with ways to protect themselves from becoming victims of identity theft, fraud, phishing, and other crimes.
STOP. THINK. CONNECT. will host a Twitter chat each Thursday in October at 3:00 p.m. (EDT). Each chat will focus on one of the weekly themes, and we invite you to join the conversation by using the hashtags #NCSAM and #ChatSTC.
We also encourage everyone to promote NCSAM on social networks throughout the month. You can find daily social media messages, profile icons, background images, and more to share at www.StaySafeOnline.org/NCSAM. Help us get the word out by using the hashtag #NCSAM on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter all month long. We hope you become an active participant in National Cyber Security Awareness Month and help us to be a stronger digital society that is safer and more secure online.
We use information to make decisions in most areas of our lives. I always filter my Amazon search results to only include products with customer ratings of four stars or up, and I never choose a date-night restaurant without checking multiple sources for expert and customer reviews (and still feel the pressure from my foodie husband). However, when it comes to deciding where I want to send my daughter for elementary school, my information options are limited. And when information is available, states often present these data in a way that is not easy to understand or use. I know this firsthand after sifting through a giant PDF of school profiles trying to pull out relevant information.
Of course, public reporting (i.e., making aggregate-level data about schools and districts—including enrollment, student performance, teacher effectiveness, and more—available to the public) serves a purpose beyond parents choosing schools for their children. Policymakers can demonstrate the progress of reforms to ensure continued support for ideas that are effective. Administrators can effectively allocate scarce resources. Researchers can use de-identified data (i.e., information about individual students but with any identifying information removed) to answer systematic questions. And then there’s public de-identified data inspiring innovation in Virginia.
This is why DQC, in partnership with multiple other organizations, is tackling the issue of public reporting. We identify four characteristics of quality public reporting: useful, trustworthy, timely, and easy to find. There will be more detailed resources available next month, but for now know that most school report cards (and public reporting more broadly) do not meet these standards. For example, this blog shows what a struggle it was to find each state’s school report card.
The good news is that there are some leading states (DC, Illinois, and Ohio, to name a few) and organizations doing great work to advance the field of public reporting. The most recent effort launched two weeks ago by the Foundation for Excellence in Education is the My School Information Design Challenge. This is a national competition (with prizes) encouraging designers to reimagine the appearance, presentation, and usability of school report cards, and DQC’s own Founder and Executive Director Aimee Rogstad Guidera will serve as a judge. All designers are encouraged to submit ideas by October 17, and the competition winners’ ideas will be open source and usable by states nationwide.
So don’t let the current state of public reporting keep you in the dark. Be on the lookout this October for DQC’s upcoming resources to help you (parents, administrators, state and federal policymakers, and local school board members) take action to ensure you’re able to use, trust, and find the information you need to make informed decisions.