October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month: City Launches “Practice Safe Cyber” Campaign

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

​Staying safe in our cyber-connected world is a constant challenge. Threats are everywhere: scammers, hackers, predators and thieves are actively working to steal personal information, access accounts and take advantage of people.

According to research by the National Cyber Security Alliance, 93% of Americans believe their online actions can help make the web safer for everyone. And while 28% of Americans say they lack knowledge about ways to stay safer online, 90% said they want to learn more about keeping safer on the Internet.

The City of Virginia Beach has partnered with the Department of Homeland Security's Stop.Think.Connect cyber security initiative and the National Cyber Security Alliance to kick off a year-long campaign designed to give people the tools, tips and steps they can take to stay safe online.

The new website, www.vbgov.com/practicesafecyber, will be updated regularly with new information and each month it will feature a different cyber security theme. We also will use social media, VBTV, and other avenues to provide tips, news and advice.

"Fundamentally, this is a public safety issue," said Virginia Beach City Councilmember Rosemary Wilson, who spearheaded the formation of the campaign. "There is a lot of information out there, but it can be overwhelming. This project is designed to help give people the tools they need to increase their safety. "Virginia Beach is safest in crime, we can be safest online."

A Cyber Security Advisory Committee has been established to help guide the campaign. Members include:

  • Rosemary Wilson, Virginia Beach City Council
  • Colin Stolle, Virginia Beach Commonwealth's Attorney
  • Rep. Glenn R. Davis, Virginia House of Delegates, Chair, Cyber Security Subcommittee
  • Matthew Arvay, City of Virginia Beach Chief Information Officer
  • Scott Philpott, Cyber Protection Resources
  • Elizabeth Dietzmann, Cyber Protection Resources
  • Mercedes Holland, Joint Expeditionary Base, Little Creek-Fort Story
  • Special Agent Randy W. Bowling, FBI InfraGard
  • Deputy Chief William Dean, Virginia Beach Police Department
  • Joel McDonald, School Board, Virginia Beach City Public Schools
  • Ramesh Kapoor, Virginia Beach City Public Schools

"As technology evolves, we're faced with the challenge of keeping criminals not just out of our homes, but out of our computers and devices as well," Stolle said. "From online bullying to theft of personal information, accounts and money, we are increasingly vulnerable. The good news is, there are steps people can take to increase their safety, and that's what this campaign will help people learn."

The City will work with schools, law enforcement and military partners, local community groups, business associations and media outlets to help spread the word. There will be something here for everyone: young and not-so-young, parents, teens, and small business owners. In fact, cyber security is a growing industry and according to Rep. Davis, Virginia has the highest ratio of unfilled cyber security jobs available per capita than any other state in the nation. "We must meet that need and make Virginia the cornerstone for cyber security business and companies," said Davis. He plans to introduce legislation to prepare our students for this industry by, for example, allowing them to study coding as a way to fulfill a foreign language requirement.

"Students today are virtually always connected and getting them involved early is key," said McDonald. "When we teach them how to be responsible digital citizens, introduce them to coding, and offer pathways to becoming cybersecurity professionals, we give them the skills and resources they need to improve not just their own safety but also create a safer community. We create a circle of safety that will give us our best opportunity to decrease chances of becoming victims of online crime and cyber-attacks."

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