Antivirus software

Dept of Homeland Security Crowdsources Cybersecurity

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is looking to Internet users for new ways of getting its cybersecurity message out. And before you ask, the agency says that the method chosen "may under no circumstance create spam."

To crowdsource its public education needs, DHS is holding a competition, called the National Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign Challenge, which ends April 30. The agency wants submissions, in Word format, of proposals for how it can "clearly and comprehensively discuss cybersecurity with the American public."

Businesses and individuals may enter the competition, which might be a good way for a PR firm, writer, or security consultant to become better known.

"As we develop strategies and messages that will resonate with various groups, we want the benefit of your ideas on how you would get the word out to your colleagues, or your friends, or your parents and children," the agency said.

"This competition will gather and share publicly the best, most creative ideas for making the public more cyber secure, cyber smart, and cyber assured."

The agency wants to see proposals that include use of Web 2.0 technology, privacy protection, repeatability, ability to quantify distribution and receipt of the messages, and provide some sort of feedback mechanism.

"It should engage the private sector and industry leaders to develop their own campaign strategy and metrics to track how to get a unified cyber security message out to the American public," the agency said.

More information on the campaign can be found on its Web page.

"Winners of the Challenge will be invited to an event in Washington D.C. in late May or early June. Winners will partner with the Department to lead in the planning of the National Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign and to ready the campaign for its launch during Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October," the agency said.

My take: This is a great idea, despite what some malcontents might think. It uses the Internet as a creative asset, opens the agency up to a broad spectrum of new ideas, and will certainly cost less than hiring some fancy ad agency to conjure up an idea. I'm all for it.

David Coursey has been writing about technology products and companies for more than 25 years. He tweets as @techinciter and may be contacted via his Web site.

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