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Posted on Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 11 a.m.

Online safety takes a village

By Kristin Judge

Keeping our kids, businesses and personal information safe online is like a part-time job for some. There is no shortage of topics for me to write about each month, because the Internet is so pervasive in our everyday lives. Staying safe will take raising awareness and education in each community.

This fall, the Washtenaw County Cyber Citizenship Coalition (WC4) in my community hosted Cyber Security 101 classes for small business. This was done as a free class with volunteer teachers from our local Eastern Michigan University Information Assurance Program. The curriculum for the course was designed with a tool from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and information the students have gained from their studies.

Over the past two years WC4 has held events for students, educators and parents to raise awareness and share safety tips and about online safety. Since I was an elected official when we started WC4, it is housed in our Sheriff’s Office as a committee there. However, in addition to government, we have business, education and nonprofit all at the table working together. All of the events we have held were paid for by private company sponsors, and our webmaster and intern are also paid for by grant money. The program has not cost the taxpayers any money and is providing a community service.

As the coalition grew, we started getting calls from champions around the country looking to create similar programs in their area. We knew the program was easy to duplicate if we just had a central place to store the information. The National Cyber Security Alliance, FBI/InfraGard and Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center joined together to create the Cyber Community Coalition Building Guide that can be found on the website.

We put together templates for events, workgroup objectives, planning materials and a step-by-step guide for anyone looking to get started in their community. As I have written about before, there are so many great materials created by our federal partners, industry and nonprofits, that no one needs to recreate the wheel. All that is needed is a team of people who care about their community and have a desire to get involved.

There are businesses, schools and governments in almost any community that are already doing something about online safety. The trick is to get all those people in one room to work together. Cyber security education is done most effectively when relationships are built between sectors.

Cyber security really is “Our Shared Responsibility,” and the tools are available for those who are interested in becoming a champion.

Today’s Quick Tip (more of a friendly suggestion):

Take a few minutes to visit the website. Learn about building a coalition and think about people in your community who may want to join you. If building a coalition is not your thing, just review some of the wonderful tips and related links on this site. It is one of my favorite resources.

To get more great information about staying safe online, including access to free monthly newsletters, webcasts and more, visit the Center for Internet Security at Stay tuned for our next chat!

Kristin Judge is the executive director of the Trusted Purchasing Alliance, a division of the Center for Internet Security. She can be reached at