The Proximity Problem (16 days)

The further things are away from us, the less we care about them.

Ok, so maybe that’s a little harsh but let me explain.

The proximity problems are real

When something bad happens elsewhere in the world, we feel sad… but then we forget and move on. The closer in terms of physical distance, that event is to home, the longer that sadness lingers and its only when we are personally affected that the impact on us sustains.

The larger a social group grows, the less civil and useful it becomes. The bigger the group, the less connection and engagement between its members and the less responsibility we feel towards its operating culture. (To put it bluntly, the bigger the social space, the more people are likely to act aggressively or counter productively).

The bigger a problem is, in terms of the number of people it impacts, the less responsible we feel for it. Whether its the climate crisis, hunger, poverty or even security – the more people impacted, the less likely we are as individuals to do anything to change it. Afterall, what difference could one person possibly make?

As time passes since an event or incident, that proximity in time grows and we see similar behaviours. The severity of the lessons it originally taught us fade and we begin to forget, to soften and revert to our previous behaviours and state.

If you can’t change something, use it

Cyber security has a huge proximity problem. Our threats are large, abstract and often located far away from us. Rarely to many of us get to directly experience the impact of an attack and this changes our behaviour.

Unless we are directly involved, cyber security issues struggle to motivate us.

If we know that these proximity effects will reduce the effectiveness of cyber security initiatives over the ecosystem then we must try to use this knowledge to change our approaches.

We are motivated when things affect us personally.

So we must teach in a way that is relevant to an individuals context.

We are motivated when we feel like a meaningful part of a situation.

So we must make a role for everyone in our cyber security defences and make them inclusive.

We are motivated when things are recent.

So we must be consistent in our messages and keep working, one change and one message at a time rather than annual programs.

Perhaps the problem is proximity

Perhaps its time to make cyber security closer, more meaningful, more engaging and more inclusive for everyone.

Sixteen days until SafeStack starts trying to address this. Watch this space.

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