Public Apathy Toward Security Issues

I’ve had a nagging question for some time now. It comes to mind when an incident happens like the one in Estonia, featured in Wired Magazine. I read the aforementioned article and thought,  “My God, if this was done on U.S. soil we’d have an international incident on our hands! The press would have a field day if another country tried to bring a halt out to our financial systems.”  If I’m thinking this, then surely more people are equally amazed and intrigued as I am, right?

It turns out, maybe not–at least not in the numbers I would have expected.  Granted I don’t watch TV, (I do have a Netflix account but I do not subscribe to any cable service, by choice) but there was hardly a whisper outside tech circles about this particular incident.

That being said, when one takes a step back and looks at the big picture, this seems to be a common theme. Cyber crime just doesn’t draw the attention that physical crimes do.  I believe the biggest problem is an apparent apathy for technological crimes. It’s what we could call “Darfur Syndrome.”

By this I mean we as a people disconnect from that which we cannot relate to. Identifying and caring about something small and substantial is easy, like a friend or family member for example. But when the number of people grows and the common bond becomes less apparent the personal connection is lost and disinterest begins to take hold.

We don’t “see” cyber crime. We see figures and definitions that mean little as we have no context for them. We can put armed robbery in context. It’s right there on the TV screen–masked men with guns and hostages challenging our basic fears. A DNS attack on a server in a small European country that one may or may not know of doesn’t have the same effect. While physical harm in the first instance is daunting, few people can relate to the devastating effect of stolen identity.

So I pose a question to those reading this post. How do we get an average person to care about security issues we all face but few pay any attention to? What can we do to raise the seriousness of such crimes?