Administration Releases Strategy to Protect Online Consumers and Support Innovation and Fact Sheet on National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Obama Administration released the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), which seeks to better protect consumers from fraud and identity theft, enhance individuals’ privacy, and foster economic growth by enabling industry both to move more services online and to create innovative new services.  The NSTIC aims to make online transactions more trustworthy, thereby giving businesses and consumers more confidence in conducting business online.

“The Internet has transformed how we communicate and do business, opening up markets, and connecting our society as never before.  But it has also led to new challenges, like online fraud and identity theft, that harm consumers and cost billions of dollars each year,” said President Obama.  “By making online transactions more trustworthy and better protecting privacy, we will prevent costly crime, we will give businesses and consumers new confidence, and we will foster growth and untold innovation.  That’s why this initiative is so important for our economy.”

“We must do more to help consumers protect themselves, and we must make it more convenient than remembering dozens of passwords,” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  “Working together, innovators, industry, consumer advocates, and the government can develop standards so that the marketplace can provide more secure online credentials, while protecting privacy, for consumers who want them.”

The goal of NSTIC is to create an “Identity Ecosystem” in which there will be interoperable, secure, and reliable credentials available to consumers who want them.  Consumers who want to participate will be able to obtain a single credential–such as a unique piece of software on a smart phone, a smart card, or a token that generates a one-time digital password.  Instead of having to remember dozens of passwords, the consumer can use their single credential to log into any website, with more security than passwords alone provide.  Since consumers will be able to choose among a diverse market of different providers of credentials, there will be no single, centralized database of information.  Consumers can use their credential to prove their identity when they’re carrying out sensitive transactions, like banking, and can stay anonymous when they are not.

Once the Identity Ecosystem is developed, a small business, for example, would be able to avoid the cost of building its own login system and could more easily take its business online.  Consumers would be able to connect with the new business with a credential they already have, thereby avoiding the hassle of creating another username and password while also being more secure.  The small business can take advantage of this interoperability to focus on its product or service instead of on managing users’ accounts.  The small business has also expanded its ability to reach new customers across the nation and around the world.

Separately, there are many services for which consumers must go to a physical store–or sign a sheet of paper and fax it to a business.  In the Identity Ecosystem, consumers would have the option of proving their identity online, which would enable industry and government to both move brick-and-mortar services to the online world and to create innovative new services.

More secure credentials will also help consumers and businesses better protect themselves from identity theft and online fraud, which annually cost our economy billions of dollars and impose a significant cost in time and money to those who fall victim.  In the worst cases, it can take a consumer over 130 hours to recover from having their identity stolen.  According to industry surveys, a consumer will also suffer an average out-of-pocket cost of $631 when their identity is stolen–and millions of consumers suffer this experience each year.

The Identity Ecosystem will provide more security for consumers; it will also provide better privacy protections.  Today, a vast amount of information about consumers is collected as they surf the Internet and conduct transactions.  How organizations handle that information can vary greatly, and more often than not, it is difficult for consumers to understand how their privacy will (or will not) be protected.  The NSTIC seeks to drive the development of privacy-enhancing policies as well as innovative privacy-enhancing technologies to ensure that the ecosystem provides strong privacy protections for consumers.

The NSTIC outlines a private-sector led effort, facilitated by government, to develop the technologies, standards and policies necessary to create the Identity Ecosystem and to enable a self-sustaining market of many different credential providers.  The Identity Ecosystem will be built to provide more security and privacy to consumers, while also spurring economic growth by helping businesses move more services online.


Fact Sheet: National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace


“The internet has transformed how we do business, opening up markets and connecting our economy as never before.  It has revolutionized the ways in which we communicate with one another, whether with a friend down the street or a colleague across the globe.  And as we have seen in recent weeks, it has empowered people all over the world with tools to share information and speak their minds.  In short, the growth of the internet has been one of the greatest forces for innovation and progress in history.”

—President Barack Obama

Be careful about e-mail greeting cards!

I recently received a Hallmark greeting card from a “friend” in my email in box. The message was NOT, however, a greeting card from a friend. It was an attempted attack on my machine. Since I use a Mac, I didn’t have to worry about this particular trojan. The evildoers who propagated this trojan want you to install zapchast on your Windows computer by clicking on their link and use it to do bad deeds.

What can you do to protect yourself? First of all, install a reputable security application on your PC, from a company such as Symantec or McAfee and KEEP IT UPDATED! We can do this for you as part of our Virtual IT service. I don’t open anything with attachments from people I don’t know, or anything that I haven’t asked for or know about in advance, really. In fact, I don’t open greeting cards and those types of things ever, since I have an aversion to animated stuff with what I consider to be unpleasant music. I still send greeting cards via snail mail. :)

If you have Internet or network security needs, please give our office a call and schedule an appointment. Call (910) 695-7068, ext. 10. Be careful out there!

Please keep your passwords private!

There are individuals who may send email to you, asking for your account password, or asking you to login to a web site to change your password. These people are posing as technical support people in an attempt to get your account password from you. Once they have your account password, they login to webmail and use your address to send out thousands of “spam” messages across the Internet.

There are a few steps you can take to make sure your account isn’t “hijacked” to use for spamming (sending junk email). First, and most important, never give your password to anyone who is requesting it by email. Don’t login to any web site to change your password or enter your current password on the request of anyone by email. If we feel your account has been compromised we’ll change your password for you. We’ll never email to ask you to do it.

You can read more about this kind of activity, called “phishing,” by going to the following URL:

Second, please make sure your password is strong enough to prevent someone from guessing it. If your username and password are the same, you’re a potential target for account hijacking. Your password should contain upper and lower case letters, numbers and some other character(s), such as symbols or punctuation. Here are a few examples of good and bad passwords.

GOOD passwords
M9ADu%3wQ! (good)
NtiL@e_D5o1sig (even better – more characters)

BAD passwords
1234 (one of the most commonly used and easily guessed passwords)
spaniel (a word in the dictionary)

Please check your password here:
If your password strength is not rated “strong” or “best,” it should be changed immediately!

If you have ANY reason to believe that someone has guessed your password, please call us to change it immediately.

Lost all my data on my computer!

This is all too common of a phone call for us here at ConnectNC, Inc.  It’s such a sad call to receive, when you hear that coming from a crying customer who didn’t back up their computer :-(  Computer Backups are So important.  We are asked all too often how to restore lost files and our first question is “Where is your backup?”.  Most of the time it was something backed up to a CD months ago, or it was “I meant to back it up last week but forgot”.

With ConnectNC’s free offsite backup service trial, you have nothing to lose.  If you try it for 30 days and like it, then just simply continue to use it.  If you decide to opt out then just let us know so we don’t charge your card.  Please email for a free trial today.  We have personal service and will be there for you in your time of need.

In general, we have residential customers using it for their personal files such as pictures, Quicken files, other databases and documents.  We have also small to medium businesses using it for their offsite backup of SQL server databases, Access databases, Excel spreadsheets, Documents and more.

The best thing about this offsite backup service is that it is HIPAA compliant remote backup.  It is also something that you easily configure using a point and click, setup your schedule so it automatically backups up your data and you don’t have to remember!

Please contact us today for a free trial.  You will not regret it!  It works on Microsoft Windows currently.  For Mac users, we’re working on a solution so please stay tuned.

Thank you for reading ConnectNC’s blog, here to provide you with the most useful information.