US Gov't Unveils New Strategy for Online Security, Privacy

The United States Department of Commerce held a press conference this morning to announce the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace--or NSTIC for short. The initiative is a partnership between the government and the private sector to and strengthen consumer confidence in the Internet.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke presented the NSTIC at a press conference this morning. The initiative is a broad strategy to enhance the security of online transactions with the United States government playing the role of facilitator.

The press conference included a variety of stats and figures to paint the picture for why such a public / private partnership is needed. The Internet is the backbone of an estimated $10 trillion in online business each year. Consumers pay bills online, buy movies and music, and order just about anything imaginable from sites like Amazon and eBay.

But, , and usernames and passwords have failed time and time again to provide adequate protection. More than eight million adults were victims of fraud or identity theft in 2010 just in the United States. The damage from identity theft in 2010 alone is estimated at $37 billion.

In spite of years (and years) of security experts repeating the mantra to use more secure passwords, and trying to educate users on stronger password security, it has been revealed time and time again that passwords are still one of the weakest links in the chain. The in 2009, and the a year later both illustrate just .

Michael Barrett, Chief Information Security Officer of PayPal, supports the initiative. "We have consistently advocated that trustworthy online identity is a key component of a healthy Internet ecosystem. PayPal will be offering more services to our customers over the coming months that directly support the NSTIC, which we expect will result in many new benefits to both our customers and the Internet overall."