In order to make the general public more aware of internet security, could the box in the corner be the answer?
Talking with Professor Alan Woodward, who has embarked on a series of educational ventures with Sophos and SANS Institute’s James Lyne and former Tomorrow’s World presenter Maggie Philbin, he said that the television is a missing part of the way to educate.
He said: “Where are the TV programmes? At best there are gadget shows and they talk about what is the latest shiny thing, and it misses the point really. You get the odd worthy programme like Horizon, but we need something like the Real Hustle, which says how you can be scammed and that sort of thing, it shows how it can happen, how it can be done as we are all vulnerable.”
Woodward has a good point; when we want to learn about the basics of security we turn to the web for solutions, but where is the education for the general public? I spoke with Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, who was involved in the Government’s Cyber Streetwise campaign.
Neate defended its involvement in Cyber Streetwise, which was featured in train, tube and street adverts, as well as on radio advertising. “I say we punched above our weight, as we are small but we are still going and we work with campaigns, so it is not just a website,” he said. “I’m pragmatic on things, it is not difficult – it is about how to be secure and putting simple precautions as you will never be 100 per cent safe.”
Looking at the television angle, Neate said: “To get to the people you have to get to their agents and you want someone who is connected with your audience, you want a star. But their agents are not interested as there is no money in it or kudos, so trying to find someone – and they are out there – finding someone who is willing to help, but if there is anyone out there who can deliver.”
So perhaps it is the case that the right people do not want a regular gig, or that we lack decent communicators? The classic format of the Open University is synonymous with how the public see the explanation of technology and terms, but did the late Steve Jobs change that with his Apple demonstrations?
Woodward praised Tomorrow’s World on its content and teaching about technology and how it works and why it matters, but he said that other programmes do not do enough on what happening.
“In the security world, it is such a big subject and we need people to say how it works – a Real Hustle and how an ordinary person falls for it and technical combinations and we can have televisual things, such as how Stuxnet works and what it was intended to do,” he said.
Neate admitted that there was criticism of Cyber Streetwise, but he said that was an example of trying to do something. Perhaps this is one for the broadcasters, consider what you could do and present and today’s couch potatoes may be tomorrow’s prepared people.