Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano spoke to the nation in a live Web address on Oct. 20 to spread the spirit of collaboration when it comes to securing the digital networks that support our modern way of life.

"Just as with our nation's preparedness for natural disasters or terrorist attacks, our nation's cyber-security is a shared responsibility," she said.

Napolitano began her address at 11 a.m. Eastern in a video that was broadcast straight from her department's Web site before answering questions from the public. She made the case that threats to the digital world threaten things we hold dear.

"If a predator is seeking to contact your children through an online social network, that's not a cyber-crime to you. It's a threat to the safety and security of your loved ones and your family," she said. "If your account numbers are stolen by an online spoof site pretending to be your real bank, that's no longer a computer issue. It's your ability to pay your mortgage next week and buy groceries."

Consequently we'd better be proactive in the fight for cyber-integrity. She recommended education children about staying safe online, but beyond that, her computer hygiene tips didn't go beyond the basics. The steps included having good firewalls and up-to-date anti-malware software, automatic operation system and application patches, avoiding suspect Web sites and downloads, not opening e-mail from strangers, using strong passwords and backing up files regularly.


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Hilton Collins, Staff Writer Hilton Collins  |  GT Staff Writer

By day, Hilton Collins is a staff writer for Government Technology and Emergency Management magazines who covers sustainability, cybersecurity and disaster management issues. By night, he’s a sci-fi/fantasy fanatic, and if he had to choose between comic books, movies, TV shows and novels, he’d have a brain aneurysm. He can be reached at hcollins@govtech.com and on @hiltoncollins on Twitter.