Security Awareness Blog

Security Awareness for the Public

One of the biggest challenges for any country level CERT is how to reach the public. Awareness can be a complex and daunting topic and you have to communicate it to a wide range of ages. One way to help communicate an awareness message is to create an identity that people can associate your message with. In many ways this is marketing 101, but then again government organizations are often not good at marketing. One exception was Smokey Bear. In the United States I remember growing up listening to Smokey Bear telling me only I could prevent forest fires. This was a simple but highly effective awareness campaign developed by the United States Forest Service.

One of the best uses of an identity I have seen a country use for awareness is in the United Arab Emirates. There the country level CERT called aeCERT have created the identity Salim (which means safe in Arabic). Salim is used to communicate their message, and to great effect. You can see his image all over the country. It is Salim, and not aeCERT, that teaches people how to be secure and aware. If you have a problem with your computer or have an incident, you do not call CERT (who can remember acronyms) but they call Salim. It has been so successful that people in the public ask to meet Salim at aeCERT sponsored events. I think it would be great to see more countries using a simple identity such as Smokey Bear or Salim in their awareness campaigns.