How to raise cyber awareness effectively?
As human beings, we adopt technology fast. But for us — cybersecurity professionals, the way we use technology might put everyone at risk … Yet, we are doing a fine job of alienating everyone we are trying to reach by presenting “cybersecurity” as if it were a known domain to all. The assumption that everyone from the laymen to the experts would be able to understand cybersecurity in the same way does not hold.
So, is there a way to make cybersecurity simple and easy for everyone to understand?
One way of looking at it would be to think about how people learn best. And that’s usually by example or through stories. So why not use those methods when raising awareness about cybersecurity?
Cyber awareness is important for everyone, not just those in the cyber security field. And raising awareness doesn’t have to be difficult — it can be fun, interesting and engaging. Communication is key to success in cyber awareness.
After all, how can we hope to get our message across if we don’t use the right language?
But, unfortunately, lack of adequate communication skills is a main challenge in the cybersecurity industry. In order to change that, we must first understand why it’s happening. One of the reasons is that, cyber security has become so complex that it’s difficult to present it in an easy-to-understand manner. Another reason is that, cyber security professionals tend to use jargon when communicating with non-technical people.
This creates a barrier to understanding and makes it difficult for non-technical people to follow cyber security conversations. It’s important to remember that, not everyone is a cyber security expert and that we need to find ways to make our message accessible to everyone.
In order to make cyber security awareness more effective, we need to:
- Use normal language: When raising awareness about cyber security, make sure to use language that everyone can understand. Avoid using technical terms or jargon that might alienate people. Instead of talking about technical terms that most people won’t understand, use relatable examples that everyone can understand. For instance, explaining what phishing is by comparing it to fishing would be more effective than using jargon. An example of a cyber attack is worth a thousand words of explanation.
- Tell stories: People love stories. Stories are a great way to engage people and get your message across. Share anecdotes about cybercrime, or even better, personal experiences about how you’ve been affected by it. Tell them stories about cyber incidents that have happened in the past. This will help them better understand the risks involved in cyber security and how they can avoid becoming a victim themselves. Do not limit the examples to a professional setting but also to a personal one. For example, use specifics like “my friend got his bank account emptied last month because he clicked on a phishing email.”
- Use analogies: Analogies are another great way to explain cyber security concepts in a way that everyone can understand. For instance, you can explain what a firewall is by comparing it to a physical wall that protects your home from intruders. This will help people understand the purpose of a firewall and how it works.
- Be creative: Be creative in your approach to cyber security awareness. Use analogies, stories, and examples to explain cyber security concepts. Be creative in your delivery, so that people are more likely to remember your message. For example, use gamification to engage with your audience and make cyber security learning more fun.
- Use visuals: Visuals are a great way to engage people and get your message across. Use infographics, charts, and diagrams to explain cyber security concepts. Be creative in your approach, and make sure that the visuals are easy to understand.
- Be engaging: The best way to ensure that people are paying attention to your cyber security awareness is to be engaging. This means being passionate about the topic, and keeping people interested in what you’re saying. Passion is contagious, so if you’re excited about cyber security, chances are that your audience will be too.
- Make it interactive: Interactive sessions are always more engaging than lectures. Try to make your cyber security awareness talk interactive by incorporating activities or games.
- Use humor: A bit of humor can go a long way in getting your message across. But be careful not to make light of the situation, as that could backfire. Watch some popular TEDx talks about cybersecurity to see practical examples of how humor can be used effectively in cyber awareness.
- Be empathetic: Empathy is an important communication tool that can help you connect with your audience. Try to put yourself in their shoes and understand how they might feel about cyber security. For example, if you’re talking to a group of parents about cyber security, you might want to focus on the concerns that they might have about their children being cyberbullied or cyberstalked.
- Speak their language: One of the best ways to ensure that your message is getting across is to speak the same language as your audience. This means using words and phrases that they’re familiar with. If you’re talking to a group of teenagers, for example, you might want to use social media lingo to get your point across. Teenagers use a lot social media slang, so using terms like “trolling” or “catfishing” might help them better understand what you’re trying to say. If you are talking to elderly, you might want to use analogies and stories to get your point across.
- Keep it short: People have short attention spans, so it’s important to keep your cyber security awareness talk short and to the point. Try to focus on one or two key points that you want to get across, and make sure that your talk is no more than 20 minutes long. If you need to, break up your talk into smaller sections with breaks in between.
- Keep it simple: When raising awareness about cybersecurity, it’s important to keep your message clear and concise. Use language that everyone can understand, and avoid using technical terms whenever possible. Even the most evident words for you might not be for someone who doesn’t work in the cyber security field.
- Be positive: It’s important to focus on the positive aspects of cyber security, rather than the negative. Cyber security is about protecting people and businesses from harm, and it’s important to remember that. By focusing on the positive, you’ll help people see cyber security in a more positive light, and they’ll be more likely to take steps to protect themselves.Be memorable: The best cyber security awareness campaigns are the ones that people remember. This means being creative, engaging, and empathetic in your approach.
- Be consistent: In order to be effective, cyber security awareness must be consistent. This means that you need to regularly communicate with people about cyber security, and you need to make sure that your message is always clear. Try to create a cyber security awareness plan, and stick to it.
- Generate interest: The goal of cyber security awareness is to get people interested in cyber security, and to make them want to learn more. One way to do this is to create a cyber security awareness quiz, or to host a cyber security awareness contest. This will help people see that cyber security is important, and it will also help them learn more about it.
- Maintain trends: Cyber security is an ever-changing field, which means that cyber security awareness also needs to change. Stay up-to-date on the latest cyber security news, and make sure that your cyber security awareness campaign reflects the latest trends.
- Use multiple channels: In order to reach as many people as possible, you need to use multiple channels to communicate your cyber security awareness message. This means using social media, email, and even face-to-face interaction to get your point across.
- Keep it relevant: The cyber security landscape is constantly changing, which means that your cyber security awareness campaign needs to change too.
- Get help: If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of cyber security awareness resources available online. The cyber security community is full of people who are passionate about cyber security, and they’re always happy to help. You can also find cyber security awareness templates and guidelines online, which can help you create an effective cyber security awareness campaign.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to start raising cyber awareness effectively and help people better understand the importance of cyber security.
By Magda Chelly
Chief Security Officer | TEDx Speaker | Author & Keynote Speaker | IFSEC Global Top 20 Cybersecurity Influencer | Entrepreneur | PhD, S-CISO, CISSP, Cert SCI (General Insurance)
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