When you hear the term Cyber Security what imagery springs to mind? As well as the images, what words come to mind and how much of a difference could this make to cyber education and prevention. Is it possible that the way in which cyber news is reported causes more harm?

I have written in different blogs about the importance of general education on cyber safety and security within organsiations. For example, it does not matter how many products you install or how sophisticated your cyber strategy is - if one person forgets to lock their lap top, leaves it on a train or the password they use is their surname plus 123, then all of that work is undone.

However should we also consider how much of an effect the manner in which cyber crime and cyber professionals is presented has on cyber safety. As this article by Dr Victoria Baines discusses, the depth and variation of cyber attacks is often glossed over with generalizations and repeated symbolism. Cyber criminals are often presented almost as vigilantes or mysterious criminals taking on the establishment ... or as Dr Baines suggests, the representation serves to;

‘ ... make the issue distant from men and women who see it as much too sophisticated to check out and recognize. This creates the perception that “you are powerless there is completely almost nothing you can do about it.”

Which if you think about it, almost helps the criminals! Presenting the threat as something almost otherworldly, or as it says above, something you can do nothing about, discourages us from taking responsibility.  Whereas the cyber security professionals are represented as the superheroes who have to save the day, which she argues;

"... this is not valuable for security pros, as it locations unrealistic anticipations on their shoulders, such as by board users. “We know those anticipations are unreasonable and are having unsafe consequences on the people today in the business,” she outlined. This involves perhaps contributing to psychological overall health issues like anxiety and burnout.  "

I think this is a really interesting article. I always like to read something that makes you stop and consider the way in which topics are represented, the words, imagery, bias used and how this can have an impact. One thing I had not really considered before now was how the assumed positive "superhero" type of imagery used for cyber professionals can actually have a negative impact - I wonder how many people in my network can relate to this?

I hope you find this as insightful as I did!