Cybersecurity May Be Going the Way of Country Music

Country music artist Toby Keith

Country music artist Toby Keith Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

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And many of us are starting to do the equivalent of changing the dial.

Late last year Entertainment Weekly writer Grady Smith compiled the YouTube video Why Country Music Was Awful in 2013, explaining “so much of what's on the radio these days sounds exactly the same!”  I’m an old school country music fan (my husband likes to say I’m so old school I listen to both country and “western” music) so when I saw that video, it confirmed my thoughts on a lot of today’s music.

So what does that have to do with cybersecurity, you ask?  Well, in recent months, I’ve noticed that cybersecurity may be going the way of country music where we are overloaded with the same message over and over again from more and more sources. Publications are dedicating entire sections and subscriptions to cybersecurity threats (aka Armageddon scenarios). Companies are creating cybersecurity units and divisions in hopes of jumping on the $$$ created by cybersecurity threats and fears. If turning on the radio last year told me that every good country boy needs a truck, a dirt road, a drink, and gal in short shorts, opening up my browser to news tells me that cybersecurity failures are stressful, scary, and probably my (and every other American’s fault).  Here are just a few that popped up in the last week in my box:

Two headlines that I did not include above perhaps best capture how we all probably feel about cyber these days: “Cybersecurity and stress” and “I have cybersecurity overload.” 

What does this mean?  On the one hand, it means more people recognize the potential of cyber threats and the need to prepare for them.  On the other hand, it also means that more people will become de-sensitized to cyber as the message they continue to hear is being repeated over and over again:  “Cyber threats are bad and unavoidable.” 

How do we avoid the latter? I’m not really sure. We could look at how America became desensitized to the threat of nuclear war over the years and find lessons learned, but that is not a perfect example as the nuclear threat did not involve our everyday activities. 

Unlike our ability to turn off the country radio station and create our own mix of music on iTunes or Pandora, we can’t really turn off our awareness of cybersecurity threats. Maybe it is more like traffic and the weather -- it is what it is and we can just take it as it comes.