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Human Firewall gets new owner

After two financial backers reduce support, a nonprofit security group takes over the security-prevention site.

The Information Systems Security Association announced Friday it will take over the Human Firewall project and Web site, which faced the prospect of folding after two financial backers decided to scale back their support.

ISSA, a nonprofit security association, assumed ownership of the Human Firewall site because it recognized its value and didn't want it to go away when its two main supporters decided to pull back, said Dave Cullinane, ISSA president. The site is temporarily closed while its ownership changes.

The Human Firewall site is designed to educate the public on the human aspects of information security. Specifically, the Web site is geared to increasing awareness and helping computer users worldwide improve their behavior as it relates to security.

The organization plans for the site to continue as a resource for users to check their systems to ensure they are secure, said Dave Cullinane, ISSA president. The Web site will post surveys and resources for consumers and businesses to help them evaluate the security level of their systems.

"We find that people are generally aware of the danger out there, but not aware of what they should do to keep their systems secure," Cullinane said.

ISSA plans to make its changes to the Web site during the third and fourth quarter, Cullinane said.

Awareness is considered a major issue when it comes to security.

According to recent results in a CIO study posted to the Human Firewall site, only 23 percent of employees receive some type of security training.

"The human factor is typically the most critical variable in information security systems. Even the best policies and technologies can be rendered completely ineffective if users do not take responsibility for safeguarding the information they control," Amit Yoran, director the national Cyber Security division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Department, said in a statement about ISSA's acquisition.

A member of the Human Firewall Council said that he, too, welcomes ISSA's support.

"I'm pleased to see ISSA revitalize this project and expand its value to the industry," said a statement from Chris Pick, vice chairman of the Human Firewall Council, a group made up of security professionals. "The Human Firewall is a very practical way for organizations to increase the level of contribution end users make toward the overall goal of better information security."

Some of the most common forms of infection include e-mail attachments that contain viruses, instant-messaging spam, worms and spyware.

A more recent threat has come in the form of merely clicking on Web sites. Security experts warned Thursday that by clicking onto the infected Web sites, Net surfers could unkowingly compromise their computers, which could then be used to transmit spam.