Thinking through the implications of instant and pervasive information sharing
25 October 2017
- By Perry Carpenter, chief evangelist and strategy officer, KnowBe4
My wife, kids, and I have the honor of being one of those homes where a lot of teenagers love to congregate. Being surrounded by ‘digital natives’ can be eye opening to my forty-something security professional sensibilities. It’s interesting — and somewhat disconcerting — to get a glimpse into the patterns of behavior that have emerged as ordinary among today’s teens.
We live in an age where technology is commonplace and ubiquitous. Everyone has access to cameras, methods of instant communication, and a number of platforms that allow and encourage information and experiences to be shared on a whim. In many ways, these are great advances for society — but they can also bring danger.
The danger is this: our whims now have superpowers. They can circle the globe and reach people instantly… and they can have profound positive or negative impacts on those with whom we communicate.
So, let me get specific about what I mean. Over the past couple years, we’ve known several teens who have made mistakes using social media. The ability to share thoughts and pictures instantly has enabled them to make big mistakes with major consequences at times when they feel like they are being innocently playful or when they might be managing the risk of what they are sharing because the message or photo will auto-delete immediately after it is viewed. However, what they forget is that, if something is *ever* displayed on a screen — even if the message will auto delete — it can be recorded and further shared by just taking a screenshot.
Kids are then able to use the screenshot (or to give the impression that they took a screenshot) as leverage to threaten each other, shame each other, or blackmail each other to receive even more sensitive material. Kids can also very unintentionally break the law by sending or requesting nude pictures (thus engaging in use of or distribution of child pornography). And they can unwittingly enable a host of online predators and/or cyber bullies.
As we enter the end of Global Cybersecurity Awareness Month, I believe we should spend some intentional time focusing on how to help the upcoming generation understand the implications of how information and technology can create risks in life that aren’t just associated with the large corporate and financial services breaches that we hear about day in and day out. We can help them understand that mini-breaches are happening around them all the time — with them and their friends — and that the information we put out in the world can be used in a wide variety of contexts. All of the personal devices that we have woven into the fabric of our lives can be used as wonderful creative tools, or they can become the epicenter of a host of unintended consequences.
Good security hygiene is all about slowing down, not acting impulsively, and thinking before action. What are your ideas on helping upcoming generations build and maintain good security hygiene? I’d love to read your ideas.