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IT industry launches consumer awareness initiative

IT industry launches consumer awareness initiative

Lloyds TSB, Microsoft and eBay have teamed up with the CBI and the Government to launch a major UK campaign to change attitudes about Internet security.

Project Endurance was launched at the CBI Conference in Birmingham by Mike O’Brien MP, e-commerce Minister, and Digby Jones, Director General of the CBI.

The scheme - supported by IT vendors, law enforcement and government agencies - is geared towards helping small businesses and consumers protect themselves from Internet security threats.

It will offer Internet users and small businesses information on installing tools such as firewalls and updating anti-virus software, as well as raise awareness of new threats, such as adware and spyware.

Consumers will be targeted through a marketing campaign that will kick off in the spring of 2005 and is said to include a dedicated website on IT security issues.

The consumer awareness initiative will draw on the resources of various organisations, which have formed the Project Endurance Steering Group. These include the DTI, Home Office, National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU), the Central Sponsor for Information Assurance, the National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre (NISCC), the CBI and banking industry group APACS.

Its initial sponsors are Microsoft, Lloyds TSB, and eBay, who have each put in £150,000. The project hopes to raise £2m from its sponsors in the first year.

"If the project gets off the ground we hope it will create much greater awareness among employers, micro-businesses and consumers,” said Jeremy Beale, head of the e-business group at the CBI.

"The existing situation is there are lots of efforts going on for example, many banks publish notices on their Web sites - but there hasn't been a critical mass of effort to make people really change their behaviour," said Beale.

According to a report in the Financial Times, Mick Deats, head of the NHTCU, compared the group's ambition to other successful public education attempts, such as drink driving and the campaign to get people to wear seatbelts. However, those campaigns had very simple messages, while Internet security involves a range of issues.

"Some of it is straightforward: Don't click on an attachment from an e-mail from someone that you don't know. Some of it is about knowing what technologies are secure, and some of it is about learning best practices," said Beale.

Sources: Financial Times, The Register, ZDNet

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