I tried not to victim blame when the WannaCry NHS cyber attack took grip in May this year. After all, the NHS was on its knees, the staff haven’t received enough training (or funding) to have attained digital literacy and the Government didn’t care. After, all how could anyone with a heart point the finger at a crippled health sector when it was already under so many other attacks, literal and figurative? So I didn’t. But the WannaCry cyberattack on the NHS was preventable and it needs to be said.
So is the Petya cyberattack currently unfolding across organisations big and small today. The vast majority of hacks, attacks and phishing attempts are preventable and the only reason they exist is you.
To harsh? Let’s rewind: Do you know the name of the person you should contact when if you get a suspicious email at work? Do you know what level of security your business needs to comply with data protection laws? Now and from May next year? And here’s the big one: Have you ever scoffed at yet another digital appointment or project in your organisation?
If you are getting a little glimmer of self-recognition after reading that, you sir, are to blame for the current spate of cyber attacks. After all, why would they bother to attack you, if you had bothered to protect yourself in the first place?
The digital and IT industries have been maligned, side-lined, scoffed at and minimised ever since offices went online in the 90s. I have been working for digital teams or on digital projects since I first started working in journalism in 2010, and I have seen first-hand the pure contempt that many have for the increasing digitisation of our society. A lot of that contempt has been aimed at so-called millennials, by the very people who oversaw the Dotcom bubble, the invention of 24-hour news and mobile device infiltration, themselves.
I have been introduced as the new appointee who is going to “show us how to make money out of the internet” (because why would that be your sales team’s job?), and invent the next Facebook in a sub-living wage job. I have listened to people I have trained in how to use an email marketing platform rant pointedly, about their preference for hand-written letters and been cornered at awards ceremonies for daring to work for an organisation that puts my work behind a paywall. Because your hatred for change means you are exempt from having to pay for it. Or something.
Even nastier I have been told, to-my-face, at no fewer than three organisations I have worked for, that the only reason why financial problems existed was the ‘continuous’ appointment of new, digitally literate colleagues to work on digital projects. Digital projects those stick-in-the-mud’s themselves refused to become involved in, despite receiving endless, spoon-fed training in the minor skill-sets they were required to obtain. Then had the audacity to claim age discrimination when they were made redundant.
Going further back, I remember my math’s teacher (my math’s teacher for God’s sake) telling us tentatively about the training she had on a recent INSET day about how to use an interactive white board for the first time. Trainers had school staff into using the interactive white board by letting them play with a range of styluses, including, hilariously, a banana. External trainers paid for out of precious school budgets actually had to gamify learning for a bunch of teachers when it came to digital literacy; and the irony was completely lost on them. This was in 2002 by the way.
So perhaps I shouldn’t have been so shocked when I was introduced to the colleague who would only send me amends via fax. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised when colleagues demanded town hall style meetings before a simple expansion of our social media presence could be trialled. The disdain for digital has existed since the dawn of the internet and it isn’t going to go away any time soon.
But be warned: neither will cyber attacks, in a corporate culture in which digital literacy and therefore cyber security are someone else’s job. And that’s exactly why many of us will be waking up to the Petya cyber attack in the morning.
Are you going to go and have a chat with your head of IT now?
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