Cyber Security Awareness Month goes international

October kicks off Cyber Security Awareness Month – 31 days dedicated to raising public awareness about staying safer and more secure online. And, this 13th annual event is even more distinctive: It marks five years since the launch of STOP. THINK. CONNECT., the month’s signature campaign and now a global call to action. STOP. THINK. CONNECT. is a simple, easily understood message designed to drive people to action to help safeguard their digital lifestyles.

In partnership with the National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, on Friday, the Organization of American States (OAS) will launch the first International Cyber Security Awareness Month in Washington, D.C. Speakers at this half-day event include OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro; DHS Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications Phyllis Schneck, and David Ocampos, Paraguay’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology. I will participate as well, representing the National Cyber Security Alliance, and delivering remarks about STOP. THINK. CONNECT. on its 5th anniversary.

It’s hard to believe it was five years ago that many of us – DHS, the National Cyber Security Alliance, the Anti-Phishing Working Group and more than 30 companies – gathered in Microsoft’s backyard in Seattle for the launch of National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2010 and the unveiling of STOP. THINK. CONNECT.

Devising STOP. THINK. CONNECT. was nothing short of a monumental undertaking, and the process took more than 16 months. Today, it stands as a shining example of what public-private partnerships can achieve when a group is motivated, focused and works toward a common goal. The campaign is used by more than 150 countries, companies and organizations to raise awareness of online safety and security with tips to remind people, for instance, to keep a clean machine; when in doubt, throw suspicious emails out; and to be a good digital citizen.

Microsoft has played an active role in the National Cyber Security Alliance and in STOP. THINK. CONNECT. from the beginning. Not only do we share in the broad responsibility to help protect people online, but we also firmly believe that together – as industry, government, NGOs, child safety organizations, law enforcement agencies and others – we can accomplish more than any single entity or organization on its own. And, much like the National Cyber Security Alliance’s prior research showed, when one person or organization is safer and more secure online, everyone benefits: “Safer for me; more secure for all.”

So, during October and throughout the year, we all need to take steps to help protect ourselves online. This month in the U.S., weekly themes will highlight different aspects of online safety and security. Events and activities will take place across the country and around the globe. Microsoft got a jump-start on National Cyber Security Awareness Month on Wednesday with an event for seniors on its Redmond campus, and we will participate in other activities as the month progresses.

Working in concert, we can continue to capitalize on what STOP. THINK. CONNECT. has started, and build even more momentum going forward.

For more information about Microsoft’s participation in STOP. THINK. CONNECT., and to learn how you can get involved this Cyber Security Awareness Month, visit our website and the National Cyber Security Alliance’s website, and check out our array of educational resources at the Microsoft YouthSpark Hub.

At the time of writing of this post, Jacqueline Beauchere’s title was Chief Online Safety Officer.