Jargon hinders online security

2010-02-20 22:58

kalahari.com

Brussels - Computer jargon, a "tick box" culture and unimaginative advertising are discouraging internet users from learning how to protect themselves online.

Faced with such gobbledegook, many of the world's nearly two billion internet users conclude that security is for "experts" and fail to take responsibility for the security of their own patch of cyberspace - a potentially costly mistake.

That was the message from cyber experts who met this week to work out how to protect computer users from the growing problem of online theft, fraud, vandalism, abuse and espionage.

"The malicious and criminal use of cyberspace today is stunning in its scope and innovation," said Dell services president Peter Altabef.

One problem is that computer "geeks" use jargon to cloak their work in scholarly mystique, resulting in a lack of clarity in everything from instruction manuals and systems design to professional training, the experts said.

Sense of superiority

"If you don't demystify security, people become anxious about it and don't want to do it," former US homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff told Reuters on the sidelines of the EastWest Institute security meeting in Brussels.

"There are some people in the profession who to some degree enjoy the mystification of what they do, that it's not penetrable. It's almost a sense of superiority," he said.

Doctors and lawyers used to enjoy "a sense of mystified special knowledge", Chertoff said. "But ... once you empower people to understand what's going on, doctors do a better job. So with cyber security, the task is to make the architecture more user-friendly - and to teach people better."

The industry has made progress in educating users, but a huge and urgent task lies ahead in view of the growing criminal threat and the imminent arrival of billions more internet users.

Use simple language

Plain language is vital, said Steve Purser, head of Technical Competence at the European Network and Information Security Agency, a European Union body.

"We use a lot of complex terminology where it's not needed. We don't encourage people to think enough," he said.

"We give people the impression ... that everything is about pushing the right button at the right time. But if someone is out to attack you, they are going to use their brain to do it. They are going to think how to get [a]round the system."

Educating the individual customer has long been a top goal for an industry struggling to balance security against ease of use and the clamour for mobile communications.

Why?

Users may be advised to install security software, or create better, more complex passwords -- but few are told why in vivid terms. There is too much reliance on procedure, Purser said.

"If we try to teach standard messages such as 'always protect your password' the danger is that people will learn the recipe but not learn why this happens," Purser said. "It's more important to learn the why of doing something..."

Delegates said imaginative messages explaining the importance of online protection are needed, tailored to different age groups and audiences and posted on media ranging from TV advertising and school curriculums to YouTube, Second Life, social network sites and video games.

"In an ideal world you would change your password every day. You would have 14 characters and no more than two would repeat themselves. No one can live with that," said Chertoff.

Curtis Siller, director of Standards at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, said the industry had to do a better job of communicating the risks to various audiences.

With cars, "you watch TV news and see the consequences of not wearing a seatbelt", he said. But the risks of internet use are less apparent, so a sense of responsibility does not take root
Read more on:    technology  |  cybercrime
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/Africa
 

This is why you should install iOS 8

Check out this video to see what iOS 8 has in store for you!

 
 

For chic geeks...

It’s THIS easy for someone to steal your ATM pin!
17 photo illusions that look so real
Check out the speed of this robo-cheetah!
New GIF keyboard on iOS for added fun!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Don`t judge so quickly or expect too much, be more accepting and understanding and make space for fun and spontaneity. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.