18 November 2012


[Updated 17th March 2013] Hello everyone! It’s been a long time since I wrote on this blog and I have to say, there have been so many interesting things happening that I haven’t really been able to make my mind up on what to talk about... What spurred me into action was a combination of various industry discussions and security conferences, the fact that lots of us are busily preparing for the festive season (or wishing they were!) and that all the children in my life are SO technically savvy...
I was fortunate enough to contribute to a few joint public/private sector discussions and consultations on cybercrime and information security... As you may well expect, the themes are not new:
  • Increase in cybercrime... (RSA report here)
  • Not enough security skills to fulfil the demand... (reports/ articles here, here and here)
  • Lack of general awareness and education... (E&Y report here and article here)
  • Should we regulate more or should we regulate less?... (article here)
  • Should suppliers be more responsible?... (here, web development company purchases security firm)
Sounds familiar? Let's explore this further...

Don't Accept Sweeties From Strangers...
When I was five or six, I used to walk to school on my own, three miles down the road. It was a safer age, where parents could still do this. Mine nevertheless made sure to equip me with The Ground Rules: “Don’t talk to anyone you don’t know”, “Look left and right when you cross the road”, “Don’t accept sweeties from strangers”, “Be polite”, “Play nice with your schoolmates”... It worked. I still remember the rules and their wisdom. I also remember never being bored. I had the kind of toys that mostly didn’t require a power supply and I had lots of play dates with my friends, either at my house or theirs, and we loved being outdoors... Fast forward 2012. Governments run campaigns to encourage children to be more active because a large proportion of their time is spent on “small screen activities”, but is it all that bad?
OK, I didn’t have a games console when I was a kid, nor did I have Skype, Facebook or a mobile phone, but I had what I needed to be like my friends in the playground. Just like kids today either have/ want what they think (or the media tell them) other kids have. As Eugene Kaspersky famously said, youngsters now are digital natives and we are mere digital immigrants... I wish opponents of digital involvement for youngsters would stop and realise that Times Move On, and that we should instead educate ourselves and our children on how to Behave Safely And Appropriately In Digital Space... (in fact, I am glad it is starting here...)

Are We Making A Rod For Our Own Backs?...

I’ve been thinking about this whole thing and tried to represent the situation in the diagram below:

For the young, security is an annoyance at worst and a moot point at best (privacy on Facebook?)... Parents/teachers are often not aware or don't understand enough to be able to help. And the legacy applications/systems of tomorrow are being built right now.

Here we are... How can we break the cycle?

From Ground Rules to Digital Ground Rules...
I was surprised to see that most parents and schools I have spoken to tell me there is a need to educate not only children, but teachers and parents on basic safety advice for the digital age... Some government bodies tell me that such resources are available... This post is my meagre attempt at fostering awareness and communications of helpful resources (and I think I will probably also ask my Mum to re-write the original Ground Rules...)
Here we are, please let me know if there are any other organisations that could do with us all spreading the word and I will update the list.

With the festive season coming up, an the flurry of online activity that invariably ensues, I am sure you will agree that we could do with being more vigilant, so please share, RT, like, etc... In any case, I'm interested in your views.

Until next time...


  1. Awesome note and thank for a wonderful thoughs!!!! Well said neira...
    Ashish khanna

  2. Thanks for the feedback Ashish! :)

  3. Hi Neira. Have a look at our fantastic internet safety education solution for schools and parents. www.jajoza.com. Bringing great internet safety resources from all around the world direct to the classroom.

  4. Hi Jajoza, thanks for the feedback ;) I've had look at your site. Is there anything other than the ebook that people can see and use without having to register (or register their child)?
    Kind regards,

  5. Hi Neira. There aren't any previews available online at this stage. We are working closely with schools directly, and would be more than happy to demonstrate the solution to any school interested in a comprehensive internet safety solution. Schools are more than welcome to get in touch if interested. Contact details are on the site.

  6. Thanks Jajoza, Please let me know when free resources and previews are available (this is not a commercial blog). Good luck!

  7. Hi Neira. One other quite influentila link for the UK would be UK Safer Internet Centre www.saferinternet.org.uk and of course South West Grid for Learning at www.swgfl.org.uk/safe

    Good article BTW. Echo its sentiments entirely

    Ken Corish
    Online Safety Manager

  8. Hi Ken, Many thanks for the feedback, and thanks for the new links, I have added them to the post!
    Kind regards,