Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Why Browsers Matter

Thursday, September 29, 2011



Online Trust Alliance Announces “Why Your Browser Matters” In Support of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month - PayPal, Symantec, StopBadware, Future of Privacy Forum and others Rally around Key Consumer-Facing Initiative

The Online Trust Alliance (OTA) has announced “Why Your Browser Matters,” a framework for websites to create “teachable moments” for site visitors, raising awareness of the security, privacy, and performance risks of using outdated browsers. 

According to comScore data and OTA research, over 40% of users worldwide are using outdated browsers, and fail to realize the advantages of upgrading.

“Why Your Browser Matters” calls on consumer-facing ecommerce, banking and social networking sites to develop plans to engage, help educate and provide their users a more trustworthy and productive online experience.

OTA recognizes the innovation of the developers of leading browsers including Google, Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera.  As a result of their efforts, consumers have more choices than ever for an up-to-date browser which can be downloaded in minutes, at no cost. 

“PayPal supports OTA's efforts to educate consumers about the need to install regular updates to their computer systems and web browsers,” said Michael Barrett, chief information security officer at PayPal. 

“These updates are part of a critical routine that consumers should follow to stay safe online.  PayPal is happy to work with other industry leaders in this initiative as part of our comprehensive approach to online security.”

"Today's Web browsers offer a number of features designed to mitigate the risk of malware, phishing, and other threats," said Maxim Weinstein, executive director of StopBadware.

"This initiative should have a marked impact on the front line of privacy and security for all Internet users."

Announced at the National Initiative of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Cybersecurity Education workshop, the goal of the OTA in providing the “Why Your Browser Matters” framework and resources, highlights the issue of the security and privacy risks associated with outdated browsers and the importance for consumers to upgrade.

Key to the initiative is the fact that the message comes directly from the sites that consumers frequent and trust and at the point of interaction or data collection. Sites have several reasons to participate in this initiative:

  • To help protect their site visitors and customers’ security, privacy and online safety
  • To enhance users’ online experiences, taking advantage of the latest performance, graphics and streaming capabilities 
  • To reduce site support costs – so more innovative technology can be used, with fewer backward compatibility requirements

The browser is the first and most critical line of defense,” said Craig Spiezle, Executive Director of OTA. 

“While antivirus solutions and patches are critical, the OTA has prioritized browsers as the most important step to protect users. This initiative is an important step to increase online, trust and safety for all users.”

OTA is calling on leading consumer sites to develop plans within six months to help protect consumers, their data, and their identities. Information is posted at

"Browsers have started competing over privacy, offering new privacy controls and protections for users,” said Jules Polonetsky, co-chair and director, Future of Privacy Now.

“Users who don’t upgrade to the latest versions of their browsers are missing out on the chance to learn about what they can do to take better control of their browsing. OTA’s efforts are important steps in helping businesses protect users and their data.”

“Symantec supports this effort and applauds the OTA’s leadership,” said Fran Rosch, VP, Trust Services at Symantec.

“Modern browsers provide significant value, for all users, especially in the areas of security and privacy. They help protect users from phishing sites and malicious downloads while supporting industry standards such as EV SSL certificates.  We recommend that users update their browser to the latest version available.”

OTA members PayPal, Publishers Clearing House and Privacy Choice are among early adopters using teachable moments to encourage users to upgrade their browsers. Their pioneering efforts and experience have helped provide invaluable input into the “Why Your Browser Matters” initiative.

Additional supporters comprise a broad coalition of companies including Constant Contact, Google, Microsoft, Return Path and Symantec.  Leading consumer, industry and trade organizations supporting the initiative include the Anti-Phishing Working Group, Center for Democracy & Technology, Identity Theft Council, National Cyber Forensics Training Alliance, National Cyber Security Alliance, StopBadware and other leading organizations.  A full list of supporting organizations and additional quotes are posted at

This effort and additional early adopters will be showcased at the 2011 Online Trust Forum in Washington, DC, October 17-19, held during National Cybersecurity Awareness month. The 2011 Online Trust Forum provides a unique platform for exploring solutions for protecting consumer trust and online confidence.  More information on the Forum is at

About The Online Trust Alliance (OTA)

OTA’s mission is to develop and advocate best practices, training and public policy which mitigate emerging privacy, identity and security threats to online services, brands, government, organizations and consumers.

OTA's goal is to increase consumer protection, transparency and control of their data and online activities, thereby enhancing online trust and confidence and the long-term vitality and innovation of Internet-based services. For more information about OTA, please visit:


Possibly Related Articles:
NIST Privacy Browser Security Security Awareness Online Trust Alliance National Cybersecurity Awareness Month
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