Cyber Security and the Baby Boomer, Gen X Populations

Reading Time: 2 minutes

We all have someone in our lives who isn’t tech-savvy They don’t know how to convert a word doc into a PDF, or they try to do a Google search on Facebook, or they seem to struggle with the ‘simple’ act of text messagingThese are not uncommon missteps when using smart devices for people who didn’t grow up with Siri ® (let alone the Internet!) at their fingertips. While these mistakes seem harmless or even comical at times, there can be much more serious cyber security consequences.  

Baby Boomer and Generation X populations (born 1946-64 and 1965-76) are a growing target for scammers because they are a largely trustworthy population made up of financially successful people. And some of the oldest may have cognition and memory ailments. The American Journal of Public Health estimates that about 5of the Baby Boomer population, (about 2 to 3 million people)experience from some sort of scam every year. The Federal Bureau of Investigation cites that older adults lose more than 3 billion dollars a year to financial scams. 

Some of the most common forms of cyber threats that vulnerable Baby Boomers can fall victim to are impersonation scams, or fraud. This is a kind of deception involving trickery and deceit that leads unsuspecting victims to give money, property, or personal information in exchange for something they perceive as valuable or worth protecting. According to Scam Watch, in 2019 so far 10,297 scams have been reported in the 55-64 age range, and 13,323 scams have been reported in those 65 and older.  

Here are some of the top types of scams used against this population: 

  • Medicare, health insurance, and pharmacy scams in which perpetrators may pose as a Medicare representative or provide bogus healthcare services for patients in order to gain access to their personal information. They may also be persuaded to buy unsafe or fake prescription medication that may harm their health. 
  • Sweepstakes and lottery fraud occur when an advertisement pops up saying you’re the lucky winner in a random website sweepstakes. This is a ploy to get people to enter their personal information, including address and credit card number in order to “claim a prize” or win money.
  • Sweetheart scams seem unusually cruel. With a majority of the Baby Boomer population dealing with the death of a loved one or children leaving home, maybe living alone for the first time, loneliness can creep in. Scammers in these scenarios pretend to be a love interest of the victim and eventually ask for money to help support them. 

The good news is that we can help the most vulnerable in this population avoid falling victim to a scamWe can have conversations to stimulate awareness of online and phone safety practices, make frequent visits and facilitate discussions about monthly bills and medications, and destigmatizing fear or embarrassment to come forward if they find they have been taken advantage of (waiting to rectify the situation could only make things worse). You can report scams to a number of organizations, including the FBI, Social Security Administration, Federal Trade Commission, or your bank or retirement facility. 

 Don’t wait until it’s too late, have important conversations with loved ones of all ages and ensure they feel empowered to make smart decisions online. 

Top 10 Cyber Myths

Reading Time: 1 minute

The top cyber security myths CISOs and security professionals fall victim to. Empower yourself with persistent training and skill building instead.

The Internet of Things Ushers in a New Wave of Cybersecurity Needs

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The internet has changed rapidly since its inception in 1983. The way we communicate, consume news and media, shop, and collect data are just a few examples of the way the internet has changed the world. A term you may have heard crop up in recent years is IoT, or The Internet of Things. IoT is about extending the purpose of the internet from use in day to day devices like smartphones and computers to use as a host of connected “things.”

So why would we want to do that? When something is connected to the internet and able to send and receive information, it makes the device smart. The more smart devices we have, the more connected and controllable our environment will become. IoT provides important insights to businesses and people that allow them to be more connected to the world and to do more meaningful, high-level work.

While the Internet of Things holds incredible potential for the world, it also means opening up more avenues of vulnerability for hackers to tap into our infrastructure, our homes, and our businesses. On a large scale, the development of “smart cities” are cropping up, promising better usage of resources and more insights from data among other things. On the other hand, this could allow hackers higher access to critical infrastructure leading to potentially crippling instances of national and industrial espionage. On a smaller scale, things like parking meters can be hacked in order to cheat the system for free parking.

The rise in IoT security must match the explosive growth rates for these devices, which means that a new era of cybersecurity is being ushered in. Nearly half of U.S. companies using an IoT network have been hit by a recent security breach, and spending on IoT security will reach more than $6 billion globally by the year 2023.

Where does this leave us in a world with a seemingly bright technological future that holds such dark potential? As IoT continues to grow and evolve, it’s hard to say what specifics need to be put in place in order to keep it secure. However, there are some good general practices that can mitigate your personal and professional risk of being a victim of a breach.

  • Be aware when it comes to downloading apps. Always read the privacy policy of any apps you’re thinking of downloading to see how they plan to use your information and more.
  • Do your research before you buy. Smart devices collect a lot of personal data. Understand what’s being collected, how it’s being stored and protected, and the manufacturer’s policies regarding data breaches.
  • It seems obvious, but use strong and unique passwords for your device accounts, Wi-Fi networks, and connected devices (and update them often).
  • Use caution when utilizing social sharing features that can expose your location information and could let people know when you’re not at home. This can lead to cyberstalking and other real-world dangers.
  • Install reputable security software on your devices and use a VPN to secure data transmitted on your home or public Wi-Fi.

All these tips are focused on educating yourself as a responsible user of the internet and sharer of all things personal and professional. To protect yourself (and others around you), keep learning safer internet and cybersecurity practices. Cyber is always changing, just like the internet, and if we overlook a privacy policy or share a little “too much” on social media, we place ourselves at risk of exploitation and danger. It is up to us, the individuals who use this technology day in and day out, to create safer spaces online to communicate and continue to enjoy the internet in all its glory.

Eventually, there is hope that the IoT industry is able to revolutionize cybersecurity for itself, as compliance and regulation never seem to catch up to the pace required by cyber defense technologies. Since this is still such a new industry and constantly evolving, utilizing the aforementioned tips and tricks will help you stay safe while IoT security gets its footing. There is a lot to look forward to as IoT continues to revolutionize the way the world works, it’s just a matter of time before cyber teams are ready to take on this new wave of security needs.

Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash

Inside inCyt: The Benefits of Gamified Cybersecurity Learning (An Interview with Cassie Brubaker)

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Here at Circadence, we are dedicated to taking cybersecurity learning to the next level. We do this through gamification that is accessible to all ages and ranges of knowledge on the subject. Our own Cassie Brubaker, co-creative director on our security awareness mobile app inCyt™, helped us understand the differences between learning and training, and how games can bring value to skill building in the technical world.

Why does cybersecurity really matter in today’s interconnected world?

C: When we don’t understand something, we don’t feel empowered. So, when I think about the importance of cybersecurity and cyber awareness, it’s more a story of empowering people to take back control of their lives. It’s a story about not being scared to live your day-to-day life because you understand [cyber] and you’re in control of it and I think that’s a wonderful thing.

I get that everybody needs to make their companies more secure, but I think it comes at a personal level too. If you feel in control over your personal life, you’re going to be a better contributor to your entire business, you’re going to be a better contributor to your family, you’re going to be a better contributor to yourself.

When we learn more about cybersecurity, we are empowered. Given your expertise with game development, what are the differences between learning versus training?

C: Games provide an inherently clever method to promote learning. There is a place for training, but in my mind, it’s a lot more formal. Learning has a broader application for me. It can happen in all kinds of different moments. You never know when you’re going to learn something new and that’s the magic of it. Training is more like, “let’s get this piece of information across in this specific way.” With our game inCyt, I’ve had so much fun trying to find all the different ways you can learn. You can play it again and again and it’s a little different every time. I can’t guarantee what lesson you’re going to learn when you play today and I don’t know what lesson you’re going to learn when you play tomorrow, BUT you’re going to learn something because you’re engaging with a well-designed product that has been crafted in such a way to give you all kinds of realistic experiences as it pertains to cybersecurity. 

Let’s talk briefly about inCyt and how it uses gamified learning.

C: inCyt is a mobile app that builds cybersecurity awareness. It is designed to educate everyone on fundamental cyber concepts and attack methods. It does this through two learning paths:  a concept learning component and gameplay component for individuals or teams.

The solution is taking the common perception of cybersecurity and flipping it on its head. Cybersecurity, as it exists today, does not conjure up feelings of peace and comfort the way you might expect from a field focused on security and safety. inCyt brings a radically different approach to the existing landscape – one that invites anyone and everyone to step out of the darkness and take their first step towards cyber enlightenment. One of the cool things about this product is that you’re learning organically about cybersecurity as you play, but you’re just having fun battling with your friends. The more and more you play, the more the cyber concepts start to sink in because you’re seeing them applied in real-world scenarios.

Who should play inCyt?

C: inCyt has been designed to reach all ages and experience levels. It’s ultimately designed for people who know very little about cybersecurity, but because we’ve built it to be playful and with a bit of strategy, even people who are cybersecurity professionals could play it and enjoy it. One of the things we found in testing within the company is that people who do this for a living will play it and say, “I think I could actually use this with my family, they don’t understand what I do.”

What is the ultimate value in a game like this?

C: The ultimate value of inCyt as a product for any company is that it is first and foremost fun for your employees to play. They are going to jump in and not going to feel like they’re being put through some mundane training exercise. There are two different ways that were teaching employees about cyber awareness. One of them is what I call “organic lessons” and that’s what happens primarily in the gameplay itself. We give players a bunch of cyber tools and allow them to experiment through gameplay and find what strategies work. In doing this, we’re creating employees that think one level bigger, more strategically about the “whys” and the “what’s” as opposed to a memorized list of rules that need to be followed. Nobody likes that. After learning the basic cyber concepts, players can compete in the gameplay portion of the app.

When working on inCyt, how did you address different learning styles?

C: In terms of different learning styles, that’s really where we’ve gone into playtesting as our method to lean against. Everybody wants something a little bit different when they play – some people want all of the answers up front, they want to know exactly how to use it and they want to know why they’re doing it, while some people want to experiment. Through those playtests, we’re able to make variations of the gameplay that hit the largest range of learning styles. It’s really from a human engagement level, less of a theoretical learning style level. That’s why the playtests have been so helpful for us.

For more information on the benefits of gamified learning, check out the below-recommended reading.

 

Recommended Reading:

The Importance of Gamification in Cybersecurity Training

Why Gamification is the Answer You’ve Been Looking For

Benefits of Gamified Learning

 

A Rising Tide Lifts all Boats: Celebrating National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Reading Time: 3 minutes

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCAM) in October reminds us of the importance of being safer online, in both our professional and personal lives. Easier said than done, eh? Who’s to say the majority of us even know what makes us “safer” online, or for that matter what makes us vulnerable or should raise a red flag?

It all starts with awareness. I’d like to suggest that “IT Literacy” is no longer enough. Now, in 2018 and beyond, “Cyber Literacy” needs to be a year-round, all-encompassing movement. And regardless of whether or not “Cyber-” or “IT-”anything is or will be in your title, cybersecurity must matter to you.

During a recent workshop presentation I delivered to attendees at the Florida CyberCon 2018 in Tampa, I likened our cybersecurity practices to the idea of personal hygiene. Because let’s face it, one’s personal hygiene is something that,
a.) you are personally aware of and educated on how to maintain
b.) is attended to routinely
c.) is well understood in terms its impact on your overall health
d.) has a relative impact on everyone around you regardless of direct contact

Cybersecurity can be thought of much in the same way. We must all begin to realize that cybersecurity demands the same kind of personal awareness and attention – it not only impacts us as individuals but also our family, colleagues, department, agency, company.

I believe that part of the disconnect around cybersecurity best practices comes from the assumptions we make as consumers in general – that what we’re buying is designed and sold with our best interests, and security, in mind. For example, you buy a new car and it comes equipped with seatbelts, turn signals, airbags, automatic brakes and locks, etc. The food you buy and eat is certified by the Food & Drug Administration to indicate it has been safely grown/ raised and suitable for human consumption. When making technology purchases, we cannot take these same conveniences for granted.

Now, that’s not to say that all technology is inherently unsafe, but my point is, we can’t settle with pre-installed safety protocols because, as we know, technology is ever evolving and failure to frequently update it and use it safely results in vulnerabilities that hackers will exploit for financial, reputational, or economic gain. Just like with personal hygiene, healthy practices and regular routines are necessary for optimal cyber literacy and performance.

The goal behind NCAM is to encourage us take some time to understand the problems resulting from poor cybersecurity practices. Those behaviors will not start to diminish until school counselors, parents, teachers, administrative assistants, nurses, athletes, and everyone become more aware of their cyber posture. There’s a reason why the laptop or PC you’re reading this on asks you to update its internet browser and operating system. And those push notifications you get on your phone to update your apps aren’t coming through to annoy you and eat up your battery and data. These simple practices and others — like resetting passwords and activating double-verification – will improve your cyber hygiene and protect you against ongoing threats to infiltrate the devices and exploit the data of our everyday lives.

So, did you shower today?
Did you check your computer updates today?

Ready to learn more? Checkout our new short, fun education videos on the “Cybersecurity Whiteboards” video playlist, here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUdKZUJquY1hn2EwlBJ90MyunBYcAaXRk.

As National Cybersecurity Awareness Month comes to a close, it’s important that the efforts put forth do not end. The reality is this: as the cost of compute power continues to be driven down by advancements in manufacturing and technology, the resources used by malicious hackers become more accessible. This, combined with the fact that a successful cyber breach gets more and more newsworthy and profitable by the day, means the problem isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. When we take steps together to be stronger individually, we become stronger collectively. We can prove the saying, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Together, we can lift the intellectual property, national security and private data “boats” if we all commit to be more cyber conscientious and cautious.