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[ISN] Security firms put up 'Personal Firewall Day'
From: InfoSec News (isnc4i.org)
Date: Thu Jan 15 2004 - 05:29:46 CST
By Robert Lemos
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
January 14, 2004
Straddling the line between public service and marketing, Microsoft
and a handful of security companies are sponsoring a campaign to
heighten consumer security awareness and have declared Jan. 15
"Personal Firewall Day."
The campaign features a Web site hosted by TruSecure, the
Virginia-based security company whose employee first came up with the
idea for a consumer-oriented security day. The Web site sports
vendor-neutral advice for home PC users on how to secure their
"If it becomes a perception that the Internet is a dangerous place to
walk at night, that hurts us all," said Fred Felman, vice president of
marketing for security software maker Zone Labs, which is a supporter
of Personal Firewall Day.
Paul Robertson, director of risk assessment with TruSecure and the
original proponent of the idea, said that safer home systems mean a
more secure Internet in general.
"The zombies used for DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks and
the proxy servers that help spammers are all on consumers' home
machines," he said. "That's the biggest part of the security problem
on the Internet."
The idea for a consumer-oriented site came to Robertson last summer,
and since then, he has sold the idea to a number of security companies
and Microsoft. In addition to TruSecure, the other companies
supporting the initiative are Sygate, Zone Labs and the McAfee
security division of Network Associates--which all sell personal
Despite this, James Schmidt, the product manager for the McAfee
desktop firewall, said that safety is as important as selling in the
"Maybe you can call this a 'soft sell,' but none of us have set it up
that way," he said. "There are a lot of people in the world who are in
the danger zone, because they don't have a firewall. I don't care what
firewall people buy--though I would love it if it was mine--as long as
they are protected."
For Microsoft, the move is an extension of its Trustworthy Computing
Initiative. Personal Firewall Day also marks the second anniversary of
the memo from Bill Gates expounding the need for more secure products.
While the software giant already has consumer education programs in
place, another way to get the message out can't hurt, said Debby Fry
Wilson, director of Trustworthy Computing Security for Microsoft's
Security Business and Technology Unit.
"We have, for the last six months, been promoting the 'Protect Your
PC' campaign," she said. "This is an opportunity for us to extend the
A notable name is missing from the list of sponsors, however.
Despite the fact that Symantec CEO John Thompson had previously called
for a "Smokey the Bear" type of campaign to heighten awareness of
security, that maker of security software for home and business users
is not on the list of sponsors for Personal Firewall Day.
The leading seller of home PC security software in the United States,
Symantec decided that the focus of Personal Firewall Day is too
narrow, company spokesman Phil Weiler said.
"While firewalls are important, Symantec believes they are only part
of a comprehensive security solution," Weiler said. "Antivirus and
intrusion detection are also necessary to address today's complex
Moreover, antivirus products are currently a much better seller.
Schmidt, of rival Network Associates, estimates that antivirus
products outsell desktop firewalls by a ratio of 4-to-1. "Antivirus
software is an easy sell to consumers--they get it," he said. "The
personal firewall is a bit more difficult."
The new consumer awareness day joins a fast-growing list of
Microsoft, Network Associates and Symantec all support the National
Cyber Security Alliance, an association of federal agencies and
industry groups, which promotes a biannual National Cyber Security
Day. That campaign focuses on the first Sunday in April and the last
Sunday in October, when people set their clocks to account for
daylight-saving time and standard time, respectively. Those days are
also promoted by many fire departments as days to check the battery in
In addition, the educational Computer Security Day, which was launched
in 1988, falls on Nov. 30.
TruSecure's Robertson hopes that Personal Firewall Day will make it
onto a few more calendars than Computer Security Day has in the past.
"I didn't even know Computer Security Day existed until I started
proposing this," he said. "It may have not gotten the attention it
deserves, and maybe it's too broad."
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