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Responsibility for Public Information Security Training

There have been a number of articles posted recently which point out statistics related to corporate responsibility for security practices, data breach disclosure laws which make it a requirement for customers to be notified of such breaches, etc.

Are Canadian Breach Disclosure laws adequate?
Canadian legislation not coming?

In my observation, there may be a greater risk to our online society from general data abuses and breaches to ordinary citizens, many of these risks appear to stem from our behavior and online habits as a whole. Although many of us educated in the methods used to exploit sensitive information can protect ourselves through;
  • checking website SSL certs,
  • or knowing (spam) what a phishing email looks like,
  • or running a few Google queries to check into the past of a person we're going to transact with
I would argue that the large (and growing) majority of Internet users are not even this savy. Do we really think that this population of users will learn these skills through osmosis? and that after many, many people are taken advantage of, this type of knowledge will become common place? I also take the position that even as security of our sensitive information becomes more prevelent, that the damage done to the overall reputation of the online world will have a much greater negative impact.

All doom and gloom? - not really there are a few organizations which are helping to educate people more quickly;

Safecanada.ca - Government of Canada's Public Safety
Stay Safe Online - US Non-profit
Wiredsafety - Global volunteer organization

One of the questions that comes to mind is - is the amount of public/government attention to this problem adequate? I'll look at this issue in a bit more detail in part - 2 of this post.

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