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Maggie Wilderotter: Don’t kid yourself about cybercrime

EVERYONE has a role in the nation's cybersecurity. All webs, whether spun by spiders or by man, have holes that trap the unwary, and the World Wide Web is no exception. There are holes everywhere, and every one provides an open door for a hacker.

The cyberworld is a great equalizer in many respects, not the least of which is its risk for mischief.

Wealth and privilege offer no shield against potential damage to finances, reputations, corporate intelligence and vital infrastructure. It's open season whenever anyone goes online.

The telecommunications industry views cybersecurity as central to its mission of protecting corporate and individual information and systems. We are consistently dedicating greater resources to protecting customer data and to giving our users the most advanced tools available to defend against cyberthreats.

At Frontier Communications, we're working to prevent cyberattacks by implementing authentication and password security and intrusion detection systems. And we're locating our infrastructure in separate areas to lessen chances of an overall attack.

We've added additional measures, such as requiring a code of conduct for employees and placing controls on the buildings housing network infrastructure and components to prevent unauthorized access.

As chair of the President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee and a member of the Business Roundtable, I work closely with other leaders of major companies across the nation and with government to leverage our collective knowledge.

Many of the best and brightest minds in business, the U.S. Congress and the executive branch are working together on cybersecurity matters.

President Obama clearly appreciates the gravity of the situation, declaring that the "cyberthreat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation" and that "America's economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity."

The president released an executive order on cybersecurity along with his most recent State of the Union address that has gained praise from security professionals and privacy advocates alike. The goal of the order is simple: to safeguard the nation's critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.

All participants in the Internet ecosystem - service providers, equipment and software manufacturers, energy and electric companies, content providers, banks and end-users like you and me - each have a role to play in protecting the security of our own data and the safety of the nation.

Absent our full commitment, our energy and communication grids are at risk, as is the integrity of our banking and health systems and much more.

Nobody is spared in cyberwarfare, as even First Lady Michelle Obama found out when her Social Security number and credit report were allegedly hacked - along with those of Vice President Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and entertainers Beyonce and Kim Kardashian.

The commitment to improving our country's cybersecurity requires time, collaboration and financial resources that may not deliver visible and immediate rewards but nonetheless deserves our full attention and significant investment. The work we can do together and the investments we make today will keep us safe in the future.

Businesses large and small can protect themselves today through sophisticated tools to upgrade the protection of our data and infrastructure and stay at least one step ahead of those who mean us harm.

Nevertheless, the most powerful weapons to protect against costly and frightening cyber-intrusions may be as simple as heightened awareness and common sense.

We all should be consistently reminded to be alert when using any device connected to the Internet, ever mindful of the strength and safety of passwords, the authenticity of external devices and links, and the security (or lack thereof) of the websites they visit.

If you are online, you should assume that intruders are trying to crack your defenses.

The Department of Homeland Security advises setting strong passwords, changing them regularly and never sharing them, using privacy settings, and limiting the amount of personal information one posts online.

And be cautious about online offers. If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.

As each day passes, we become more dependent on information technology to conduct our daily lives. This means that businesses, individuals and the government must each do their part to prevent cybercrimes and attacks.

We are all soldiers in a global war in which the enemy is without a name, a face or a noble cause. We cannot allow them to win this war.

Wilderotter is chairman and chief executive officer of Frontier Communications. She is chairman of the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee.


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