Cyber Literacy:

PEW reported in 2017 that only 54% of internet users could correctly identify a phishing attack.  Similarly, only 16% of users knew that a series of internet connected devices that work together in a network is called a “botnet.”  The lack of understanding of fundamental concepts poses a serious threat to our nation’s future. It is no longer optional in the 21st century to understand online best-practices, it is mandatory.  

Cyber 311 is a concept designed to provide non-emergency advice on cybersecurity practices.  It is an adaptation of NYC 311, a dynamic hotline providing information on a wide range of issues.  The idea emerged out of the rising prevalence of non-emergency related questions being asked during 911 calls.  By providing a similar service through a dedicated hotline channel, cyber literacy will likely improve.

The hotline will address the clear desire for cyber or internet security advice.  The government still struggles with providing such a range of info to its citizens. One of these key issues, as identified by a McKinsey report, is the inability of government agencies to accurately assess customer needs.  As a result, we get clunky, confusing, and often inefficient government programs.

The government needs to treat its citizen’s concerns like a company would treat its customer’s concerns.  The priority of the government should be high satisfaction rates, whether the result of a streamlined advice platform or responsive media avenues (such as text, phone calls, or other media).  

Satisfaction follows first-hand experience. Citizens are more in favor of government programs that they have close relationships with.  This rings true across all areas of government, from social welfare programs to NYC 311. Of course, this will require a widespread deployment of the service so that it is easily accessible to all concerned citizens.  As the government slowly embraces the fast-paced, on-demand nature of the 21st century, programs like Cyber 311 will need to be explored.

The judiciary and policy-makers are failing to embrace the technological revolution.  This was most evident during the 2018 Facebook hearings where the knowledge gap contributed to some of the most embarrassing moments.  Of course, it is difficult for Congress to keep up on so many topics with such a limited staff compared to the executive branch.  Our government must require a basic education on technology, especially cybersecurity practices.