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Protecting Our Nation's Cyber Space: Educational Awareness for the Cyber Citizen

Thursday, January 1, 2004


Over the last decade, the number of computers connected to the Internet has increased significantly. As a result, the discovery and exploit of a vulnerability in a major software program has become a threat to the stability of the Internet and the continuance of commerce. For example, the Blaster worm infected over 400,000 computers worldwide in less than 5 days. This level of infection occurred despite the fact that the patch that would have prevented infection had been available for over a month. At the same time, millions of copies of the SoBig.F worm spread across the Internet in one of the fastest attacks ever recorded. In fact, about one in three internet users are infected with a virus or worm every year. Moreover, research by security firm, Qualys, Inc., indicates that as the furor over a vulnerability dies down, the number of unpatched systems begins to once again increase. This leads to the chilling conclusion that worms could make second appearances, exploiting the same vulnerabilities.

So, why aren't cyber citizens patching their systems, installing firewalls and keeping their anti-virus programs up to date? What are the best tools available to increase our cyber protection? This hearing will examine the current public and private initiatives underway to educate home users and small business on basic cyber security. Among the initiatives presented will be those aimed at small business, children, older students and the average home user.

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