Being Cyber Smart

Being Cyber Smart

Over the past quarter century, cyberspace has become an increasingly inseparable part of life for billions of people around the world.  It now plays a foundational role in our social, economic, and political lives.  Cyberspace has created enormous opportunities to expand communication, commerce, and the free exchange of ideas.

The United States firmly believes in an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure internet.  This view is predicated on enduring American values that recognize the power of individual liberty, free expression, free markets, and privacy.  We welcome the fact that large parts of the world have embraced this vision of a shared and open cyberspace for the benefit of all.

However, just as cyberspace has unlocked vast new potentials, we have become keenly aware of new threats and vulnerabilities.  Malign state and non-state actors do not share our vision for cyberspace.  They see the internet as a place where access must be controlled and speech constricted, working actively to undermine the principles of an open internet.  They treat cyberspace not as an open forum of exchange and opportunity, but as an arena for inflicting harm on individuals, organizations, and governments.  Through espionage, disinformation, and cyberattacks, they undermine economies and democracies, steal intellectual property, and sow discord.

Since 2004, the United States has recognized every October as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.  Through National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, a collaborative effort between government and industry, we hope to educate the American public and audiences worldwide about cyber threats and empower individuals to be safer and more secure online.  Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, and we each must do our part to keep the internet safe.  The steps we take to be safe online make the internet a more secure place for everyone.

The theme for this year’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is Own IT.  Secure IT.  Protect IT.  I encourage everyone to visit the National Cybersecurity Awareness Month website to review the proactive steps you and your friends, family members, and colleagues can take to enhance your cybersecurity at home and in the workplace.  I am sure many people will already be familiar with some of the advice, like how to maintain your online privacy and the importance of choosing strong passwords, but the internet is a dynamic place where evolving threats and hazards require us to be ever vigilant and remain current on best practices.

By maintaining good IT habits, you will not only be contributing to the vision of an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure internet, but contributing in a very real sense to Armenia’s prosperity.  Having a secure communications infrastructure bolsters economic security, encourages investment, and opens new markets.  Protecting critical infrastructure, securing networks, and deterring cybercrime are important parts of keeping citizens safe.  As the foundations of economies are becoming increasingly rooted in digital technology, strong cybersecurity is essential for maintaining the thriving digital economy Armenia seeks to build.  Armenia’s future prosperity depends in no small part on how it both seizes the opportunities of cyberspace and responds to the challenges.

Earlier this month, at the World Congress on Information Technology, I was encouraged to see how Armenia is engaging in complex discussions on the many promises and perils of new and emerging technologies.  Our Embassy also recently hosted an event at the American Center in Yerevan where some of the best minds on cybersecurity participated in an engaging roundtable discussion that gave students unparalleled insight into the seriousness of the challenges we collectively face in cyberspace.  Seeing people ready and motivated to address such weighty problems is inspirational.

The United States embraces the opportunity to work with its partners and allies throughout the world to ensure the security of cyberspace, and I encourage you to join me in building awareness on cybersecurity as part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

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