STOP.THINK.CONNECT.™: Broad Government, Industry and Non-Profit Coalition Unveils First-Ever Coordinated Online Safety Message

Unified Message Part of a Global Public Awareness Campaign Launched During October's National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Oct 04, 2010, 12:16 ET from National Cyber Security Alliance

SEATTLE, Oct. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- An unprecedented coalition of government, industry and non-profit organizations today unveiled the first-ever unified public awareness message to help all digital citizens stay safer and more secure online. The message – Stop. Think. Connect.™– was revealed at the kickoff of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, held every October, and will appear throughout the world.  Starting today, the new message will reach millions across the globe through a variety of online and offline marketing, advertising and editorial campaigns.

The goal is to help all digital citizens employ universal behaviors to protect themselves, no matter what they are doing online or how they are connecting to the Internet.  Hopefully this will lead to a culture of cyber awareness in which online safety steps become second nature in our daily lives.  

"'Stop. Think. Connect.' is a simple, actionable message that applies to everyone as we connect to the Internet from an array of devices, including laptops, personal computers, smart phones and gaming consoles," said NCSA Executive Director Michael Kaiser. "Taking a quick moment to evaluate that we are prepared to access the Internet, provide information or engage in the larger community online can increase our sense of personal security, confidence, and peace of mind."

The creation of the unified message was the result of an intensive collaborative effort over the past year from the Online Consumer Security and Safety Messaging Convention, an effort organized by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), key industry leaders, government agencies, and nonprofits.

"Our research bears out that consumers are anxious to take personal control for their online actions and eager to learn more about keeping safe online not just for themselves and their family members but also for the greater online community," said APWG Secretary General Peter Cassidy, principal author of the project plan for the Messaging Convention. "The 'Stop. Think. Connect.' awareness slogan grew out of our in-depth study of online safety, attitudes and behaviors and we are honored and delighted to see this essential awareness message being put to action in October for National Cyber Security Awareness Month."  

The message is designed to be a simple, yet effective awareness tool that can be easily understood and implemented by everyone, much like other public safety campaigns such as "Look Both Ways Before Crossing the Street" and "Stop, Look and Listen."  

Stop. Think. Connect.™ in Motion

Members of the coalition are enthusiastically promoting the national awareness campaign messages to broad audiences in the United States and abroad at public events, through print, broadcast and online social media and advertising campaigns. Examples include:

AT&T continues to lead the industry with its "in the cloud" approach to cybersecurity. The company is reaffirming its commitment to cybersecurity education with multiple initiatives designed to communicate the campaign message of "Stop. Think. Connect." among customers, employees and key stakeholders.  During the month of October, AT&T's consumer bill page and homepage will reference the "Stop. Think. Connect." campaign as well as direct subscribers to AT&T's online safety website for more information and tools, such as anti-virus software, on how to stay safe online. AT&T is also planning several activities to incorporate the campaign's message into internal communications regarding National Cyber Security Awareness Month in October to help educate employees on the importance of cybersecurity and provide them with resources to improve their personal online security, protect their families and friends, and discuss cybersecurity in their local communities.

Hundreds of employee volunteers from Massachusetts-based EMC and its RSA Security Division are dedicating an entire month of service in classrooms and youth groups by teaching school-age children in 22 states and 6 countries about safe and responsible online behavior using the NCSA's Cyber Security Awareness Volunteer Education (C-SAVE) curriculum. In addition to a month-long advertising and publicity campaign, the company is also releasing a fun and educational "Stop. Think. Connect." song and music video as part of its National Cyber Security Awareness Month activities.

ESET will incorporate the message of "Stop. Think. Connect." into the existing cybersecurity awareness activities of its "Securing Our eCity" initiative. Securing Our eCity (SOeC), a public-private partnership between local businesses, government and law enforcement has grown to include both national and international stakeholders. To further the work of the "Stop. Think. Connect." campaign, SOeC is building upon the proactive stance that the city of San Diego has toward cyber awareness, education and preparation, through a series of billboards and PSAs highlighting the "Stop. Think. Connect." message. It has also taken the message online, with cyberbullying awareness videos and other educational collateral both on the SOeC website, retail partners and various social media channels. Additionally, SOeC will hold its "Cybersecurity Symposium II and 1st Annual Cybersecurity Awards" on October 7.

Facebook worked with NCSA, APWG, and Involver to develop a "Stop. Think. Connect." security quiz that will be hosted on the Facebook Security Page.  People who take the quiz will be able to test their knowledge and learn best practices for staying safe and secure online.  After completing the quiz, they'll be able to post a badge to their Facebook Wall and share tips with their friends.  Facebook will be promoting the quiz through updates to the News Feeds of the over 2.6 million people who have liked the Facebook Security Page, as well as the over 20 million people who have liked the Facebook Page.  Facebook has also donated 35 million ad impressions globally over the month of October to promote both the quiz and message.

Microsoft's Online Safety and Privacy Education page will feature the "Stop. Think. Connect." messaging as well as a host of other tips, advice and guidance.

Verizon is one participating company that plans to use the campaign as a cornerstone of a yearlong global focus on the importance of cybersecurity. Verizon's multi-pronged campaign will be directed at consumer and business clients, employees and associates as well as other key stakeholders such as shareholders and government partners. The company continues to place a heavy emphasis on "baked-in" security, meaning products and services have a layer of security already included.  Additionally, Verizon plans to host educational security sessions for employees, consumers and business clients while sharing ongoing security tips through a variety of online channels including Facebook and Twitter. Verizon also continues to develop new products and services that safeguard customers online.

Visa Inc. is promoting "Stop. Think. Connect." and providing additional education for payment cardholders to stay safe while transacting online. A new Web resource at supports the NCSA's campaign with practical know-how for protecting account information online, avoiding payment card scams and resolving unauthorized card use.

The Process for Developing a Unified National Online Safety Message

In May 2009, President Obama's Cyberspace Policy Review called for the creation of a national public awareness campaign focused on cybersecurity. The White House pointed out the need for a campaign that would achieve for online safety what the "Smokey Bear" campaign did for forest fire prevention and the "Click It or Ticket" campaign did for seatbelt safety.

In the spirit of those programs, the Online Consumer Security and Safety Messaging Convention was organized by APWG and the NCSA.  In fact, APWG was already working on the development of the Messaging Convention organizing committee in March and April of 2009, recruiting members of the initial Messaging Convention organizing committee and charting the project's course.

The Convention currently includes a diverse membership of commercial enterprises and public agencies, including: ADP; AT&T; AVG; Costco; ESET; Experian; Facebook; Good Research; Google; Intel; Intuit; McAfee; Microsoft; PayPal; RSA, The Security Division of EMC; Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC); Symantec; Trend Micro; Verizon; VeriSign; Visa; Walmart; Webroot; Yahoo!; the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE); the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS); U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs; the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS); and the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA).

The convention selected the "Stop. Think. Connect." message after a yearlong process of member meetings, research, focus groups, opinion polling and industry and government collaboration. The consumer research, conducted by Heart + Mind Strategies, revealed that 96 percent of Americans feel a personal responsibility to be safer and more secure online, while 93 percent said that their online actions can protect not only friends and family, but also help to make the Web safer for everyone around the world.  

The study also revealed the need for simple, easy-to-understand, actionable resources and tips to help ensure their safety and security online. Access to this type of information equips and empowers users to make more-informed decisions – even before they go online, the poll revealed.

Overall, the study revealed that Americans feel safest online when they are taking personal action for their own Internet security.  Sixty-one percent believe that much of online safety and security falls under their personal control, and consistent with those feelings, 90 percent said they want to learn more about keeping safer on the Internet.

About the National Survey

Heart + Mind Strategies conducted the national survey online with 1,007 U.S. adults ages 18 and up between May 21-25, 2010. The poll was part of an extensive analysis on online behaviors and attitudes for NCSA and APWG.

About The National Cyber Security Alliance

The National Cyber Security Alliance is a nonprofit organization. Through collaboration with the government, corporate, non-profit and academic sectors, the mission of the NCSA is to empower a digital citizenry to use the Internet securely and safely protecting themselves and the technology they use and the digital assets we all share. NCSA works to create a culture of cyber security and safety through education and awareness activities.  Visit for more information.

About the APWG

The APWG, founded in 2003 as the Anti-Phishing Working Group, is a global industry, law enforcement, and government coalition focused on eliminating the identity theft and fraud that result from the growing problem of phishing, email spoofing, and crimeware. Membership is open to qualified financial institutions, online retailers, ISPs, the law enforcement community and solutions providers. There are more than 1,800 companies, government agencies and NGOs participating in the APWG and more than 3,600 members. The APWG's Web site offers the public and industry information about phishing and email fraud, including identification and promotion of pragmatic technical solutions that provide immediate protection.

SOURCE National Cyber Security Alliance