Sunday marked the first day of October and the start of National Cyber Security Awareness Month with state, local and federal government officials joining industry groups and computer security companies to highlight efforts that will be taken this month to educate consumers in how to stay safe online.

New York State, the University of North Carolina and the city of Charlotte, N.C., are joining the Department of Homeland Security, the National Cyber Security Alliance and numerous companies from the computer security industry to promote educational initiatives and free software giveaways to encourage the adoption of good cyber security practices in small businesses and citizens' homes.

New York Governor George Pataki is one of the first governors to accept an invitation by the National Cyber Security Alliance to sign a proclamation setting aside this month in recognition of the importance of cyber security. On its Web site, the New York Office of Cyber Security and Critical Infrastructure Coordination offers a link to a calendar of cyber security awareness events for the month.

One of those events is a two-day cyber security summit in the state capital of Albany hosted by Government Technology Conference and the State of New York on October 19th and 20th. The summit includes sessions focused on teaching children to stay safe online and how state and local government officials can improve the state of cyber security in the agencies they manage.

The mayor of Charlotte, N.C., Pat McCrory has joined Pataki in issuing a proclamation recognizing October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month. In addition, University of North Carolina at Charlotte graduate students will conduct free public workshops at Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Public Library branches the week of Oct. 3-9. Workshops are scheduled for 6 p.m., Oct. 3, at the Main Library, 310 North Tryon St.; 6 p.m., Oct. 4 at the Beatties Ford Road Branch Library, 2412 Beatties Ford Road; 2 p.m., Oct. 6 at the South County Regional Library, 5801 Rea Road; and 3 p.m., Oct. 9 at the North County Regional Library, 16500 Holly Crest Lane in Huntersville.

In addition, the annual 2005 Fall Computer Security Symposium for computer security professionals will be held Wednesday Oct. 12, at UNC Charlotte's University Cone Center.

The conference is open to cyber security professionals, including business continuity professionals, IT managers, software developers, systems administrators, information security professionals and policy makers.

Speakers will include Pulitzer Prize finalist Robert O'Harrow, author of "No Place to Hide," as well as industry leaders, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI.

San Diego State University has also planned cyber security-related educational activities for the month of October.

The National Cyber Security Alliance and the Department of Homeland Security will be airing a public service announcement titled "Stop, Think, Click" to encourage consumers to protect their personal information through safe Internet browsing practices. NCSA and DHS will also be sponsoring a variety of regional events such as small business workshops and cyber security bootcamps as well as student assemblies, Web casts and events at college campuses to raise awareness of cyber security among the academic community.

"Cyber Security Awareness Month is an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of cyber security and empower all Americans to protect themselves online and ensure that their computers are not used to attack others," said Andy Purdy, acting director of the National Cyber Security Division at the Department of Homeland Security.

"We share a common goal with Homeland Security and our industry partners, to provide Americans with the tools and information they need to practice safe online behaviors during National Cyber Security Awareness Month and throughout the year," said Ron Teixeira, Executive Director of the National Cyber Security Alliance.

McAfee and RSA Security are among the companies participating in National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

Recognition of the importance of cyber security during the month of October isn't limited to the United States. The conference, "Cyber Security: Dimensions of Critical Infrastructure Protection" is taking place in Munich, Germany October 25?28 where over 150 information security experts and government officials will meet to discuss the challenges of cyber security and the protection of critical information infrastructure.

This year, public officials have been pushing hard on promoting Internet safety and cyber security. Earlier this year, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution recognizing June as National Internet Safety Month, which led to a series of educational events aimed at keeping kids and teens safe online.