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June 28, 2023

Promoting Public Education

ABA Supports Cybersecurity Literacy Bill

The American Cybersecurity Literacy Act, would require the NTIA to launch a campaign warning the public about cyber risks.

The American Cybersecurity Literacy Act, would require the NTIA to launch a campaign warning the public about cyber risks.

Legislation authorizing a national cybersecurity literacy campaign to increase the public’s awareness and knowledge of how to reduce cybersecurity risks was unanimously approved by the U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce in March.

The ABA-supported bill, H.R.1360, the American Cybersecurity Literacy Act, would require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an agency in the Department of Commerce, to launch a campaign warning the public about cyber risks and provide specifics on how to mitigate the risks.

In a March 30, 2023, letter to Committee leaders, ABA President Deborah Enix-Ross expressed the organization’s support of the measure, writing that “The ABA has long recognized that public and private entities must make it a priority to identify potential cybersecurity risks in a variety of devices and formats and educate individual Americans on the resources necessary to mitigate any cybersecurity risk or loss should it occur.”

President Enix-Ross also cited ABA policy, adopted by the House of Delegates in 2020, which urges governmental and private entities to “promote digital literacy, civic education and public awareness to build societal resilience to domestic and foreign malign disinformation operations.”

More than a decade ago, the ABA established a Cybersecurity Legal Task Force, representing 26 of the association’s entities with cybersecurity expertise, to examine complex cyber issues and educate both ABA members and the wider public about cyber threats and potential responses. Since then, the Task Force has published a number of books and materials, most recently The ABA Cybersecurity Handbook.

Worldwide, 71 million people fall victim to cyber-crimes each year, with individuals losing $318 billion to cybercrime – an average of $4,476 each. The top three cyber-crimes in 2021 were: extortion, identity theft, and personal data breach.

To promote cybersecurity literacy among the general public, the American Cybersecurity Literacy Act would require the NTIA to provide information to Americans on such safety measures as identifying phishing emails, the benefits of changing default passwords and how to limit exposure on public Wi-Fi networks. Additionally, the NTIA would help the public identify their devices that pose possible cybersecurity risks and encourage the public to take other actions, such as downloading applications only from trusted vendors or sources.

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