Spreading Security Awareness

The First State steps up computer safety with creative marketing campaigns aimed at citizens.

IT leaders may not be known for their marketing acumen, but Delaware Chief Security Officer Elayne Starkey discovered that skill is useful in spreading the message about the importance of safe computing.

Speaking at a recent panel on security at NASCIO's annual conference, Starkey said the Delaware Department of Technology and Information supports 38,000 state government employees, 107,000 students, 783,000 citizens and state and local law enforcement. "People are our greatest asset, but also can be our greatest liability," she said, noting the potential for a security breach.

As such, Starkey's office kicked off a cyber awareness campaign to reach employees and citizens alike. Some of the measures DTI has taken include a security newsletter distributed to every user on the state network, posters and public service announcements, and sticky-note advertisements on the front page of the Wilmington News Journal. The department even wrapped a Delaware Transit bus with a message about netsurfing and the sharks that lurk in the water.

"Tap in to employees with creative marketing expertise," advises Starkey. "They're not always the IT folks."

The state's cyber security website contains many resources, such as information on protecting against online predators, proper shredding practices for home and office, personal firewalls, wireless security, e-mail scams, phish stories and stopping spam, among other topics.

In late October, Delaware conducted its fifth annual cyber security exercise, dubbed "Cyber Siege." Hosted by DTI, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the Delaware Emergency Management Agency and the state police, the exercise featured scenarios that required network administrators to guard against real-time attacks on systems and networks. "175 people simulate something really bad happening in the state network," Starkey said.

Starkey credits Delaware's successful cyber security message in part to solid executive-level sponsorship, a pool of employee marketing talent and national partnerships with other organizations.

Nov 05 2009