US President Barack Obama has urged Americans to help guard against cyberattacks in a first-of-its-kind video published on the White House website.
"Our digital networks are critical to our national security, our military superiority and public safety. But that dependence also makes us vulnerable to cyberattack from those who would do us harm," Obama said in the video.
He called the threat of cyberattacks one of the most serious economic and national security challenges faced by the US, and urged businesses and individuals to take greater care online.
Obama said he will "soon" appoint a cybersecurity coordinator to lead a new government office responsible for making sure that defending the country’s networks becomes a national security priority.
He first announced the new office in May and has been criticised for not appointing a leader for it sooner. In August, the former head of cybersecurity for the administration resigned and told the Washington Post that she was tired of waiting for the new appointee.
In his video address, which the White House called the first of its kind by a US president, Obama said the private sector, which owns and operates most of the networks, has a responsibility to secure them. He called for public-private partnerships to ensure security and privacy.
"Ultimately it comes down to each of us as individuals," he said.
He urged people to follow three basic security principles:
- Keep security and software systems up-to-date and beware of suspicious email,
- Always know who you are dealing with online,
- And never give out your personal or financial information until you verify the recipient is legitimate.
The National Cyber Security Alliance praised the president’s call to action.
The White House had earlier designated October as cybersecurity awareness month.