This year’s RSA Conference theme, Human Element, elicited an overwhelming number of speaker proposals, largely because the theme ties into almost every aspect of cybersecurity. Most often, though, when we think about the human element, we think about the mistakes. The database misconfigurations that resulted in a massive data leak. The vulnerability that was exploited. The accidental click on a phishing link.
Undeniably, these are problematic mistakes. Human error has indeed resulted in security incidents and data breaches, costing enterprises millions of dollars. However, there are even more stories of human success that don’t make headlines.
In a recent episode of On Point with Meghna Chakrabarti, “Is There Such a Thing As Too Much Innovation?,” historians of technology Andrew Russell and Lee Vinsel recognized, “What happens after innovation … is more important. Maintenance and repair, the building of infrastructures, the mundane labour that goes into sustaining functioning and efficient infrastructures, simply has more impact on people’s daily lives than the vast majority of technological innovations.”
Their words are particularly true when it comes to the security of innovation. In talking about those who do the work of maintenance, Russell and Vinsel said they are “the silent and often forgotten foundations of technological societies.”
My search for cybersecurity heroes has yielded many results, the first of whom is Ana Cecilia Pérez, (ISC)2 member and Capa8 Partner Director in Mexico. What makes Pérez a cybersecurity hero? Not only did she voluntarily translate into Spanish all of the free Safe and Secure Online materials published by the Center for Cyber Safety and Education, but she also launched Familias Ciberseguras (Cybersecure Families), an initiative to educate the community in Mexico about cybersafety.
I had a chance to talk with Pérez and learn more about the ways in which she has dedicated her time and effort to strengthening the foundations of and securing our interconnected world.
Q. Why did you volunteer to translate all of the Safe and Secure Online materials into Spanish?
A. In Mexico and throughout Latin America, we are very behind on issues of cybersecurity awareness. At both the corporate and family level, there is much to do. From the educational point of view, children and adolescents are vulnerable because their parents do not know the risks and therefore do not know how to protect, guide and educate them on these issues. The Garfield materials, a character loved by all, are made by experts in the field. It’s important to make these available in a language that all children can easily understand and adopt.
Q. What is Familias Ciberseguras, and what is your role?
A. Familias Ciberseguras (Cybersecurity Families) is an initiative created by Capa8 to provide information and awareness to families, including legal, advisory and psychological services. In addition, we are about to launch Escuelas Ciberseguras (Cybersecurity Schools), which aims to support schools in two ways: The first is related to the adoption of "Digital Civics," which models behavior and actions for children and youth of all ages. The goal is for them to identify threats that may jeopardize their own integrity. The second has to do with supporting schools in protecting the technological platforms they use as enabling tools for their educational systems, and protecting the sensitive information of each one of the families that integrates them.
My partner, Juan Pablo Carsi, and I are the founders and creators of this initiative. Our role is to disseminate information, create awareness and become that hand of support to all Mexican families concerned about the safety of their families in the virtual world.
Perez is one of many cybersecurity heroes doing the work to secure the human element, and we are excited to feature others like her in the weeks and months to come. Have a Humans as Heroes story you’d like to share? Contact me.