On May 10 at Champlain College, Governor Jim Douglas led the kick-off of an educational assault in the name of computer and information security. He joined the volunteers of the Vermont chapter of InfraGard to introduce an initiative called VT INFOSAFE–an information security education effort targeted at home and small business computer users. Computer security experts from InfraGard announced they will volunteer their time to deliver 20 free training sessions around the state—from Bennington to Enosburg Falls. The security experts say Vermonters must become more vigilant in protecting their small business and home computers to prevent falling victim to identity theft, viruses, cyberstalking, Trojan Horses, intellectual property theft, and other cybercrimes.The Vermont economy depends in large measure on small, entrepreneurial businesses. Oftentimes, these small businesses are lax in protecting important information stored on their computers. Of the 18,000 full-time business firms with employees in Vermont, about 97 percent are classified as small. In addition, there are approximately 35,000 full-time self-employed persons, many of whom rely on computers to get their jobs done. “Residential and home-office Internet users are particularly vulnerable to cybercrime, identity theft, viruses and worms, and other security incidents,” said Gary Kessler, chair of the Vermont chapter of InfraGard and a faculty member at Champlain College. “The mission of the VT INFOSAFE project is to raise public awareness of the importance of computer security and to give the public the steps they need to take to protect their computers and themselves.”This statewide focus on small businesspeople and home computer users is believed to be a novel computer security initiative—perhaps the first of its kind. Funding and other support for VT INFOSAFE is provided by Champlain College, the FBI, Norwich University, The Vermont Army National Guard, and the Vermont Information Technology Center.VT INFOSAFE sessions will target the majority of home computer users—non-technical individuals who are unsure of how they can secure their own systems. It will cover the importance of computer security and provide concrete steps that can be taken.Security professionals throughout the United States are concerned about the vulnerability of the nation to electronic attack, and most citizens do not realize that their home computers can also be used as part of an attack the country’s critical infrastructures, Kessler said. This is especially true for computers with a constant connection to the Internet—such as with DSL and cable modems.Coordinated attacks, such as the Code Red virus of 2001, will often infiltrate a computer and place a program that searches for 100 other computers to infect. With Code Red, thousands of infected computers were programmed to simultaneously send an inordinate flow of information to a government website to disable the system.Security experts report that within the last year, there has been a substantial increase in the use of personal computers to launch devastating distributed attacks upon US businesses.The public can learn more about the VT INFOSAFE sessions and register for the events at www.vtinfragard.org/vtinfosafe/(link is external) or call (802) 865-6439.The locations of the free workshops are as follows. Complete event details will be found online.BenningtonColchesterEnosburg FallsJerichoLudlowLyndonvilleMontpelierMorrisvilleNewportNorth SpringfieldNorthfieldRutlandShelburneSt. AlbansSouth BurlingtonSwantonWaterburyWestminsterWillistonWindsorWinooskiVT INFOSAFE is a community project sponsored by the volunteer members of the Vermont chapter of InfraGard. Other funding and support has come from Champlain College, the FBI, Norwich University, Vermont Army National Guard, and the Vermont Information Technology Center.The Vermont chapter of InfraGard is a group of working professionals and others interested in the field of information security in the state. The group is committed to acting as a communications coordination facilitator and information resource within the state. They are organized under the national FBI InfraGard program.The chapter was founded in 2001 and members come from all types of organizations and industries, including K-12 and higher education, health care, financial services, law enforcement (local, state, and federal), and government. The chair of the chapter is Gary Kessler, a faculty member at Champlain College. On the Web, the group is found at www.vtinfragard.org(link is external).