What are the motivating factors that can help encourage people to become more aware of the dangers and benefits of the yin and yang of the cyberdomain?
In our ever accelerating and advancing world of technology that has interconnected communities and continents, we enjoy the benefits of our digital networks providing information and communication.
New generations are interfacing with the cyberdomain at younger and younger ages.
We are using technology to educate, and sometimes distract our children. The benefit of providing access to information to help educate and enrich our children’s lives is great, but how far does it go? Does it really need a webcam? I think providing children with access to devices with video or photo capabilities should be age restricted. Part of the answer is that parents should receive education on the potential harm of indecent exposure and predation that can occur from allowing children unmonitored access to these devices.
The level of personal information exchanged via the cyberdomain has quadrupled since I was young and has exploded since the creation of social media. We share photos that may specify where we are (geolocation) via social media. Every day we are profiled by any number of companies to determine our likes and dislikes, our political ideas, and our opinions on products and services. We share key information that provides criminals and others with nefarious purposes the means to discover our personal attack surfaces.
What are we doing to educate society to be aware of these types of threats?
In the last decade, we have witnessed the power the cyberdomain provides when spreading information to unify people with political movements. Thus, actions in the cyberdomain can affect political and economic events.
But to this I pose the question, “How does one verify the validity of this information?”
How many times have we heard people joke that “it is on the Internet, it must be true.” Hopefully, no one would be surprised to find out that this is, indeed, not true, and that the Internet contains all degrees of information from accurate, cutting edge research to deliberately misleading information, like one of my favorite examples which affected both political and economic sectors.
Should cybersecurity education become as standard as learning your “ABCs” and that “1+1=2?” Or should it be taught by parents with the same understanding of “don’t talk to strangers?”
I use a couple specific examples above, but in summary there are two areas that need to be addressed with cybersecurity education.
Technology and privacy of personal information are the two most important areas which will help foster a better “cybersecurity aware” society. The more we understand the technology we use, and the way that technology can be attacked, the better we can mitigate and minimize the possible attack vectors which can be used against it to gain access to our information.
Understanding how things work, and not being blind to what technology can do is the key idea I am addressing here. I find it is best described in a quote that has motivated me for many years:
“You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird. So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing – that’s what counts.” – Richard P. Feynman
We need to understand technology and how it directly and indirectly influences our lives. It is the magic of how and why that will help produce a cyber-aware society.
Part of my point is that people need to understand enough of how things work. We are obviously not going to make everyone Internet engineers. No one needs to have several years of in-depth education in computer science and electrical engineering to see that a cell phone is just a glorified radio.
Almost all digital devices we interact with on a daily basis store and use our personal information to provide authentication to email, bank, stock, insurance and credit cards. However, most of us provide this information via devices that are vulnerable and can be compromised by individuals who are motivated to use this information for their personal gain.
This is where the “privacy” part of the awareness equation comes in. We need to appreciate what our private information is, understand why it is valuable, and truly be aware of how we use that information on a daily basis. As it is now, too many people are too casual about this information. This is why we need to be our own privacy police and be suspicious of applications and communications requesting personal information, and information that provides authentication.