Help us kindergarteners; You’re our only hope

By Chad Hemenway on July 3, 2014

Cybersmart425x255After listening to my daughter’s kindergarten class sing an excellent rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” during a graduation ceremony, the parents were invited to walk back to the classrooms to see a quick movie slideshow of pictures from the year.

On the way I saw a couple of interesting posters in the hallway and took a picture.

Posters against cyberbullying speak for themselves. It’s a topic we haven’t addressed here on the Cyber Risk Network but it’s one we may want to take a look at because I’m assuming more than the family of the bully can be, and has been, lassoed into litigation.

The “cybersmart” poster intrigued me more. The messages were simple and yet I’ve read several reports indicating grown-ups often do not heed these types of ground-level, basic warnings.

  • When online, never give your email address, phone numbers, home address, family details, school or clubs’ names
  • Don’t open messages from strangers
  • Never tell others your passwords
  • Don’t reply to nasty messages
  • Keep and show an adult nasty messages

Yes, of course, adults cannot live by these rules and do business, but what this poster does is begin the concept of cybersecurity at a young age. I’ve read other reports and received comments from sources saying cybersecurity, especially within an organization, needs to part of a “culture.”

These posters begin an attempt to engrain these concepts in our culture. And I wasn’t aware it was happening within our schools. When I became aware, I was instantly pleased. My children navigate the Internet and tablets and cellphones about as well as I do, after all.

I am a champion Googler, however, and when I looked more into these posters I learned of the National Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign: Stop. Think. Connect. It isn’t just for children but it includes them, and offers teachers and schools activities and posters to promote cybersecurity.

“We are often asked, ‘What’s the easiest way to instill and maintain good security practices?’ The answer is surprisingly uncomplicated: constant reminders. It’s that simple,” the campaign insists.

I’ve always been of the opinion the cyber insurance market can never catch up to cyber risk. It moves too quickly. And I’m not completely prepared to change my view.

But I will admit I’ve never considered future generations. I’ve been wrapped up in adults, many of whom remember a time without the Internet and without computers. How will cyber risk change when more and more people are prepared and practiced in the basics of cybersecurity as if they were learning to say “please” and “thank you”?

There will be a time, not far from now, when a click on a suspicious email will be less likely because the numbskull adults who do it now will be in old age homes drooling on themselves. That’s a big drastic, but you understand what I mean.

Will cyber risk change when the basics of cybersecurity–the stuff we’re told are not followed today–are just plain more instinctual, an afterthought? Like looking both ways before crossing the street. Will children grow to take passwords more serious?

Turns out, everything you need to know you indeed learn in kindergarten.

Chad Hemenway is Managing Editor of Advisen News. He has more than 15 years of journalist experience at a variety of online, daily, and weekly publications. He has covered P&C insurance news since 2007, and he has experience writing about all P&C lines as well as regulation and litigation. Chad won a Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Single Article in 2014 for his coverage of the insurance implications of traumatic brain injuries and Best News Coverage in 2013 for coverage of Superstorm Sandy. Contact Chad at 212.897.4824 or [email protected].