If you seek insight into how the Government perceives the public aspect of ‘cybersecurity’, this is the answer


Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central, Labour)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what recent assessment his Department has made of the cyber security of mobile devices. 

Chloe Smith (Norwich North, Conservative)

We have considered cyber threats in relation to mobile, smart phones, tablets and other mobile ICT equipment as outlined in our UK Cyber Security Strategy. As part of our response we sponsor Get Safe Online:


which provides practical and easy to understand advice and information on mobile devices and the key threats and what people need to do to avoid them.

Won’t someone please think of something other than the children and the easily-led?

Oh, wait, when you do that you end up with CCDP.


5 Replies to “If you seek insight into how the Government perceives the public aspect of ‘cybersecurity’, this is the answer”

  1. Mmm. It’s been a while since I last looked through “Get Safe Online”, but last time I did, not only was it somewhat painful, but it had sufficient errors (mostly of omission) in it, that it didn’t so much show people how to “get safe”, but how to have “just enough delusion of knowledge, to be averagely dangerous”.

    OK, there’s good reason to have a site which starts from a position of assumed zero knowledge, on the part of the user. Trouble is, it needs to go a whole lot further than it does, it needs to keep current with guidelines on new products and services, and once it’s replete with a decent corpus of information, it needs to be easy to navigate and search.

    There’s also the problem that it appears to be hamstrung by requirements for political correctness, in terms of not being able to reference products by name and saying “don’t use this”. Maybe pointing users in the direction of the CVE lists, with instructions on how (and how often) to search them, would actually be a responsible thing to do – but I’m also pretty sure that education experts would liken this as tantamount to teaching 12 year-olds about general relativity and the fact that we can’t get it to integrate properly with quantum mechanics, rather than teaching them the lie that Newtonian mechanics is accurate in all circumstances (and not mentioning the limit cases of high velocities and high accelerative forces).

    (I remember an incident from about 1995, when I was working at Acorn; I was building a prototype company website, using NCSA Mosaic on a Sun 4 remote-X’ed back to my R140, and was asked to put a set of requirements and some design elements together, so Acorn could write its own web browser. When my proposal came back from the education experts, about two thirds of the features had red ink through them, with the comment that “this is far too complicated for children to use”. I think I’ve had the last laugh, on this one – and I think it shows that being patronising in this context is actually one of the worst things to do…)

  2. Aha – the Wikipedia page for Get Safe Online includes a list (which, of coourse, may not be accurate or complete) of sponsoring organisations.

    Spot the vested interests, among them.

    Also, re-reading my comment above, there’s the further obvious issue of the threat model. Believing Newtonian mechanics to be accurate, won’t have adverse effects on the lives of most people. Not having suitably comprehensive structured info on security, is more likely to get folks’ systems pwned.

    1. Mmmm…


      The campaign is sponsored by the following companies:
      Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA)

      The campaign is supported by the following companies and organisations:
      7Safe Information Security
      UK Online
      National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations (NCPTA)
      Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA)
      Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG)
      Citizens Advice Bureau
      Business Link
      Information Systems Security Association (ISSA)
      International Association of Accountants Innovation & Technology Consultants (IAAITC)

  3. I’ve just had a (brief; it was painful) look at Get Safe Online, again. Interestingly, its advice is not only technically inaccurate, but there is at least one area where it advises doing something likely to break the law.

    I will raise questions about getting it fixed (and offer my advice on subject areas).

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