By Maria Eriksen-Jensen, VP of Business Development and Marketing
For Secunia, the month of October is what Christmas is to kids: a full month of all that's exciting and important, I'm of course talking about Cyber Security Awareness Month!
If you're not in the IT security industry and especially if you're European, you may not have heard about it.But 2012 is actually the ninth year running, where players in the public and private sectors partner up and focus on educating digital citizens on how to stay safer online and protect their digital assets.
Secunia is forever present where threats are being talked about and dealt with, so of course we play an active role in the Cyber Security Awareness Month.
What's Cyber Security Awareness Month about?
Cyber Security Awareness Month kicked off in the US, but is slowly and surely spreading to other parts of the world.
This year, the European Union is trying it on for size, introducing a European Cyber Security Month in 8 piloting countries. (Visit ENISA for more information)
The goal is to remind and educate consumers and businesses that the Internet is a shared resource and we all need to do our part to protect it. As the goal is very much in tune with Secunia's mission to protect millions of PCs and users world wide, I've been following the development of initiatives closely and had conversations with a variety of players, including The Norwegian Centre for Information Security (NorSIS) who we have teamed up with (more on that later).
Why are we involved?
I think it's excellent that Cyber Security Awareness is on the itinerary, and I hope that the corporate world and private PC users will become increasingly aware of cyber security measures as the issue moves up the global agenda. It's certainly a huge step in the right direction that the global, digital community is coming together in the realization that cyber crime is rather indifferent about country boarders, oceans and the like.
I truly believe that this is the direction we need to be moving in: no single government institution, and no single private corporation, can fight digital crime alone. For us at Secunia to take an active part in helping educate the PC users, and joining the national initiatives to reach out and take a stand, is unquestionably the right thing to do.
Talk is cheap. What are we really doing?
Well, for one thing we give away our expert software for free, and we work continuously to make it easy to use for PC users.
And, as our very specific contribution to Cyber Security Awareness Month, we've decided to team up with, and sponsor, one of the European piloting countries (again). We are doing this with Norway, in order to help the Norwegian Centre for Information Security (NorSIS) gather intelligence about the state of affairs of Norwegian software vulnerabilities.
To get proper data we have gone all in and translated the new, user-friendly version of our free vulnerability management tool, the Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI), to Norwegian. The Secunia PSI is a free computer security scanner, which identifies software applications that are insecure and in need of security updates, or patches.
That way, when 2014 comes around, and Europe is ready to have a fully-fledged Cyber Security Awareness Month, we'll have undiluted, specific data from a non-English language area with high internet saturation. And Norwegians will have the full benefit of a first class security scanner in their own language. No English skills are required, and consequently there are really no excuses left not to give your PC the protection it deserves and join the millions of people who already protect their PCs with Secunia, so they can shop, bank and socialise online safely.
If you want to try it out, you should download the Personal Software Inspector
Guess what? A few facts and figures:
On average a Norwegian PC has 66 programs installed on it, 41 of which are from vendors other than Microsoft.
7 out of 10 vulnerabilities come from these non-Microsoft vendors. In order to keep all of these programs updated, you need to run no less than 21 different update mechanisms.
And here are a few pointers from NorSIS on how to keep your PC safe:
- Set all your programs to update automatically whenever possible
- Accept and carry out updates when available
- Delete programs you do not use
- Check all programs for updates – preferably with a security or patch management tool.
We will be following the development among Norwegian PSI users closely to monitor how security levels evolve throughout October and follow up on the numbers at the end of October. This way we hope to do our bit to increase awareness, get online discussions going, and get people to “Stop.Think.Connect” and update their programs.
As for Norway I only have one thing to say: “Calling all PC users in Norway: It's time to take action”
Have a safe October!
VP of Business Development and Marketing