Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cringe And Reflect: The Internet In 1997

This morning, like most mornings I sat drinking my coffee browsing my freshly updated list of news feeds and articles. All of a sudden I was floored by a video, my breath lost in a mix of laughter and horror. In it’s wake I was left with a new appreciation for how much technology has changed. Allow me to share this experience with you.

The ‘Kids Guide To the Internet’ is a wonderful reminder of the early days of the Internet (and educational videos at that). The video may be linked to an infamous satire site, but I found this experience rather enlightening (and really funny at that). My sentiment was further compounded when the person (younger) I first showed the video asked me “what is a VCR?”. Watch this video and be reminded of what technology and our attitude towards it used to be like. Compare it to today where we swim in wireless and are constantly smartphone tethered. Consider how simple technology has become — how many times you have seen a child of only a few years old using an iPad with no effort at all? In only a few years technology changes in astonishing ways, but I for one find I often quickly forget the time before new invention X.

So how much progress have we made? Clearly technology has developed in amazing ways and as a society we have become much more comfortable with technology in every aspect of our lives. That said, we have some interesting issues this video reminds me of. The digital divide is one such issue. Across different age groups we have varying levels of expertise and security awareness on the Internet and many are left very exposed due to a lack of basic understanding. What makes a secure password? How do you spot a phishing scam? How do you know if your web connection is encrypted? I have heard people say that security awareness is a temporal issue and that as the young generation grows up the problem will naturally be fixed – but I disagree. I’ve spoken to many young people who are extremely capable users of technology but who have less of a concept of privacy and security than older colleagues. Granted, I know many people who are my senior who struggle with these concepts too.

The Internet and associated technologies has become a key part of our society and an increasing default for so many things we do day to day. To put this simply, as an international community we have to do a better job of educating the whole population on the basics of security. Security awareness can’t be a one size fits all, but rather needs to be a campaign that gets the message across to each group of the population in terms that make sense to them. It should be embedded at every stage of the curriculum in schools, it should be on the TV like a health and safety message and anywhere else we can put it to help get the message across. So, do your part and be a good Internet neighbour. Friends don’t let friends use insecure computers. Help spread the word and give security awareness a thought today.

Read more: Hass Associates

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