McGruff Sinks His Teeth Into Cybercrime

Everyone remembers McGruff from his warnings against the dangers of talking to strangers and eating unwrapped candy on Halloween. Now, McGruff takes a bite out of something more adult: cybercrime. The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), the organization behind the McGruff face, in conjunction with the Chief Marketing Officer Council, today formally launched Take a Bite Out of Cyber Crime, a campaign to promote awareness of the risks of cybercrime for individuals and small businesses. Although viruses, worms, spam, phishing, identity theft, online predators, and spyware pose very real threats to both homes and businesses, only 20 percent of all computers have core protection, according to the NCPC. "People in general are not well aware of the full range of threats out there that can affect their digital security and they still don't have an understanding of what they can do specifically to keep their computers safe," says Don Scott, COO for the CMO Council. The McGruff campaign will not only educate people on the dangers of cybercrime, but also help them implement security measures that will help their systems stay secure. Partners in the campaign include Intel, McAfee, VeriSign, USA Today, CNET.com, and Comcast. The campaign's Web site, bytecrime.org, will feature educational booklets to better inform readers of cyberdangers, as well as a security center through which McAfee will provide a free version of SiteAdvisor, which helps users weed out which sites are unsafe to visit. McAfee will also offer a discounted version of its virus protection software, available for download. Targeted information will be offered for children, families, individual users, and small and medium businesses. The site, which goes live today, will be open for users to register their interests, until it goes up in full in October. Although security threats can be very damaging for individuals and families, Scott says that they can be even more detrimental to businesses. "The problem with businesses is, if something happens to you at home, it's coming out of your time. When it happens at a business, people suddenly become unproductive," he says. "It can cause business to grind to a halt if you're not protected." Additionally, security breaches for businesses can mean a leakage of costly information and can lead to a decrease in customer trust. While implementing antivirus software and spam blockers are important steps toward ensuring security, Scott believes the most important issue is fully understanding these threats so that users will be able to protect themselves on a higher level than a software program. This mission, he says, is at the center of the campaign: "We're asking everybody to focus on taking a bite out of cybercrime--this means going through the effort of knowing what to do to protect their computers." Related articles: A Thousand Words Will Betray Customer Trust
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