How could I be expected to handle school on a day like this?
Bueller…Bueller…? Is anyone paying attention?
Remember high school? Sitting in stuffy classrooms, glazing over during lectures, and wondering “when am I ever going to need to know this?” I was asked that constantly as a math teacher, especially when it came to “boring” topics like Euclidian Geometry or Algebraic Number Theory. Like Ferris Bueller, little did my students know those skills would come in more useful than they realized.
Just like no one could predict how handy it would be to calculate percentages for tips or sale prices, we often don’t realize how useful cybersecurity education can be in our increasingly tech-driven world. While it may seem tedious to learn about encryption, firewalls, and two-factor authentication, having some cyber-smarts can keep you safe online.
Think about the amount and breadth of technology you rely on daily via computers, phones, apps, or even the internet. Online we can shop, connect with friends and family across the globe, bank, or manage our digital health data. But how secure is our data? Not nearly as much as you think. Every day another company is compromised, exposing individual credit card numbers, usernames, passwords, and more.
Just like Ferris and Cameron couldn’t get away with rolling back the odometer on the Ferrari after their joyride, you can’t undo the damage once your financial information is compromised. Driving home in reverse doesn’t reset the mileage on your car. Similarly, trying to retract your data after a breach won’t restore the security you lost or your credit score. Protecting your information proactively is essential because you can’t undo a data spill. Make sure your personal finances are and remain locked down tightly, not left out like an unlocked garage waiting for a bad actor to take your digital data on a joyride
No one is immune – not even savvy young people who’ve grown up with technology and think a “Save Ferris” t-shirt is a throw-back. The tools we use every day like social media, free Wi-Fi, and even smartphones are prime targets for cyber criminals. Without basic knowledge of online threats and safety practices, you’re an easy mark for things like malware, phishing scams, identity theft, or social engineering scams. Ouch.
Consider a refresher cybersecurity course. Learn tips like avoiding questionable links, enabling two-factor authentication, and creating strong unique passwords. It may seem basic, but basic protection can save you headaches and financial heartache down the road. Learning new concepts built on previous lessons and continuing your cyber education is the only way to stay safe in our ever-evolving digital world.
It’s not just on us as individuals to get cyber smart, companies have a major role to play, too. Similar to schools requiring ongoing training and professional development for teachers to cover new learning standards and best practices, organizations must prioritize continuous cybersecurity education for their workforce to increase and expand their skills. Unfortunately, many businesses still treat cyber training as an afterthought, even though their employees are handling sensitive data daily.
Neglecting cyber education puts customer information, intellectual property, and the company’s reputation at huge risk. If your employer isn’t taking cyber training seriously, speak up! A cyber-savvy workforce is a resilient one. We all have a responsibility to be cyber smart; schools, companies, governments, and citizens alike.
Ferris asked for a car and got a computer. Even if you don’t find cybersecurity to be as exciting as deleting nine absences, scrolling on Instagram, or high scores on Candy Crush, a little time to learn now pays off major dividends as you live more of your life online in the future. Be cyber smart, and mentally prepare yourself for a lifelong course in technological diligence to protect your data, privacy, and your identity.
The vastness, efficiency, and rapid evolution of web may be cool, but it’s also risky if you don’t pause to understand the hazards. My students can attest that the “boring” classes can also teach the most useful real-world skills. As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”