Today the White House announced the President’s new White House Cybersecurity Coordinator, Howard Schmidt.
With some forty years of experience in government, business and law
enforcement, Howard brings a unique and deep experience to this
important issue. Watch this video to learn more about his background
Cybersecurity matters to all of us – and it’s our shared responsibility to mitigate the threats in this space. You can take cybersecurity into your own hands with these tips for protecting yourself online:
- Keep your security software and operating system up-to-date.
At a minimum, your computer should have current anti-virus and
anti-spyware software and a firewall to protect yourself from hackers
and malicious software that can steal sensitive personal information.
Hackers also take advantage of Web browsers and operating system
software that do not have the latest security updates. Operating system
companies issue security patches for flaws that they find in their
systems, so it is important to set your operating system and web
browser software to download and install security patches automatically.
- Protect your personal information online.
Millions of people become victims of identity theft each year. One way
that cyber criminals convince computer users to divulge their
confidential personal information is through fake "phishing" emails,
which are often cleverly disguised to look like authentic emails. Be
wary of clicking on links in emails that are unfamiliar and be very
cautious about providing personal information online, such as your
password, financial information, or social security number.
- Know who you are dealing with. It is remarkably
simple for online scammers to impersonate a legitimate business, so you
need to know who you are dealing with. If you are thinking about
shopping on an unfamiliar website, do some independent research before
you buy. Similarly, before you download software, be sure that the
software developer is trustworthy. Cyber criminals will often embed
the capability to steal passwords and files into free software.
- Learn what to do if something goes wrong. If your
computer gets hacked, the effects may be obvious (e.g., deleted or
corrupted files), or they may be subtle (e.g., slow computing
performance). As a first step, you should scan your computer with
updated anti-virus software. You may wish to get professional
assistance through your computer’s manufacturer, computer retail store,
or local computer technician. You can also alert the appropriate
authorities by contacting your Internet Service Provider or the Internet Crime Complaint Center. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can assist if you are subject to identity theft. You can also forward spam or phishing emails to the FTC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s the full-text of the announcement email sent to the White
House email list by John Brennan, Assistant to the President for
Homeland Security and Counterterrorism:
Cybersecurity matters to all of us. Protecting the internet is
critical to our national security, public safety and our personal
privacy and civil liberties. It’s also vital to President Obama’s
efforts to strengthen our country, from the modernization of our health
care system to the high-tech job creation central to our economic
The very email you are reading underscores our dependence on
information technologies in this digital age, which is why it seemed
like a fitting way to announce that the President has chosen Howard
Schmidt to be the White House Cybersecurity Coordinator. Howard will
have the important responsibility of orchestrating the many important
cybersecurity activities across the government.
Howard is one of the world’s leading authorities on computer
security, with some 40 years of experience in government, business and
law enforcement. Learn more about Howard's background and approach to
Howard will have regular access to the President and serve as a key
member of his National Security Staff. He will also work closely with
his economic team to ensure that our cybersecurity efforts keep the
Nation secure and prosperous.
Moving forward we will use WhiteHouse.gov, this email program and
our other communications tools to keep you posted about our progress in
this important area.
John O. Brennan
Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
P.S. You can play an important role in cybersecurity as well. Learn
more about the issue and steps you can take to ensure your own security.