Think Security First! traces its roots back 15 years as one of the first and most innovative security awareness programs in the nation.
In the fall of 2002, Richard Clarke, President George W. Bush’s special advisor for cyberspace security, visited the San Francisco bay area to announce the launch of the first National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace. The NSSC was the first major initiative by the U.S. government to address growing concerns over the surge in cyber attacks.
Just 30 minutes away, the east bay city of Walnut Creek (population 64,000) was listening.
Led by Neal O’Farrell, 6 weeks later the city announced the nation’s very first cyber security day, where more than 1,500 consumers and business owners enjoyed free education from a panel of leading experts on the top security issues of the time.
The success of that single event persuaded city leaders to make Walnut Creek America’s first cyber secure city. With “Think Security First!" as the slogan and call to arms, city leaders decided to make security education and awareness a top priority for all citizens and businesses for the entire year of 2003.
The program included the Chamber Of Commerce, the Mayor and City Council, local schools, and businesses. Even the police department got involved and was the first department in the U.S. to have its entire department trained in identity theft awareness (taught by Neal).
The initiative was backed by Microsoft, McAfee, Cisco, AT&T, the Department of Homeland Security and many others, and received national attention and awards. As a result, April of every year was declared Think Security First! month by the city leaders.
Also in 2003, the city launched its own center for information security to provide cyber security training to bay area businesses and law enforcement. That was the birth of Think Security First! And led by Neal.