AVG (AU/NZ) , developers of popular free anti-virus software, announced today that it is launching an initiative that moves consumers from awareness to engagement and accountability in the fight against cyber criminals and Internet security threats. AVG has also enlisted the first U.S.A. Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, and his firm, Ridge Global, to help develop a national awareness campaign and encourage consumers to secure their computers from large-scale cyber attacks.
“We want to galvanize consumers to be more vigilant, be free from malicious threats on the internet and to make them accountable for protecting their own virtual communities,” said J.R. Smith, CEO, AVG Technologies. “While their government is working to put systems in place and shore up cyber security, every consumer should not only be mindful of personal identity theft and data breaches, but also understand the important role they play in helping to maintain a secure cyber community and cyber infrastructure.
The public/private partnership initiative was conceived by AVG Technologies’ newly formed strategic policy team, which also includes U.S. Vice President of Government Relations, Beth Jordan, when AVG first engaged in policy discussions with United States and European policy makers. AVG protects more than 80 million users worldwide and has been a leader in offering free computer security software for more than a decade.
AVG Takes Bold Steps in Public Policy
In the European Union, AVG is working with the European Commission and is actively engaged in several key initiatives pertaining to cyber security, focused on critical infrastructure protection and consumer security, as well as working with Beijing around free basic protection. As part of the effort, AVG will lead multi-faceted campaigns in the United States and European Union to promote innovative concepts that encourage discussion among policy experts, media and consumers about the role of private citizens in the security of the World Wide Web. The campaigns will clarify opportunities and vulnerabilities consumers face and will seek solutions for both corporations and citizens.
Smith added that AVG will also pursue aggressive policy efforts that reward consumers and businesses for taking appropriate security measures: “We want to work with government leaders to enhance and promote product-neutral, government-sanctioned websites where people can get both trusted information and access to security software. We want to look at the tax codes and offer tax incentives for both consumers and businesses that are making investments in proper internet security tools. Finally, we need to use the power of the e-government tools as means to get people to become educated about internet security and to take action.”
As part of the effort, AVG released on 23 October a white paper entitled, “Cyber Wellness is Everyone’s Personal Responsibility”. In the same way individuals practice good habits like frequent hand washing to avoid getting sick during flu season, it is critical to also emphasize the importance of cyber wellness. AVG estimates that 50 to 70 percent of cyber problems could be solved if individuals (children, parents, workers, supervisors and executives) would follow better cyber wellness practices:
- Apply software patches in a timely manner
- Recognize dangerous emails, websites and attachments and know how to deal with them
- Install and update simple software programs for fire walls and security (anti-malware, anti-spyware, spam filters, etc.)
- Frequently change valid, hard-to-guess passwords and avoid unknown media and thumb drives.