Garfield, the orange-colored feline, really hates Mondays. Sometimes he’ll unleash his fury on lovable but dumb-witted Odie to forget about this hatred or he’ll tackle his anger by downing a whole heaping of lasagna. The lovable and misunderstood cat is now turning his sights on another one of his many annoyances—lax cybersecurity.
In his “Cyber Safety Adventures,” Garfield teaches his friend Nermal the Kitten to never share passwords and user information online. With the help of Dr. Cybrina, a certified information systems security professional, he shows Nermal that password protection is essential to protecting sensitive personal information even when playing online games. Children can stay safe online and still have fun —even if that means interrupting Garfield’s attempt to break the world record for most jelly donuts consumed.
The Center for Cyber Safety and Education, a registered non-profit fund of (ISC)2, has partnered with Garfield creator Jim Davis, consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton, defense-contractor Raytheon Co. and Pearson Education to deliver cybersecurity materials featuring Garfield and his lovable friends.
The program aimed at children, parents, teachers and senior citizens provides easy to adopt cybersecurity tips—including 12 days of cybersecurity tips for the holiday season. However, online shopping tips aren’t only for the holiday season as Bloomberg BNA Privacy & Data Security previously reported. Additionally, Bloomberg BNA Privacy & Data Security recently offered its own 12 days of privacy gifts.
Patrick Craven, director for the Center for Cyber Security and Education in Clearwater, Fla., told Bloomberg BNA that the program is aimed to make children and adults “cyber safe.” The approach to holiday cybersecurity awareness has been a bit different than other training programs, he said.
Instead of warning consumers about the potential dangers of online shopping, the program is “focused on what you do after you give your kids a gift,” Craven said. For example, parents shouldn’t just hand their children internet-connected toys or gadgets without first “changing the default password and turning off the geotagging feature for photos,” Craven said.
Changing default passwords may seem like a menial task that any technology-savvy adult can handle, but the recent Mirai botnet attack showed how hackers can use default passwords on internet-connected devices, known as the internet of things (IoT), to wreak havoc on popular websites, such as Twitter Inc. and Netflix Inc.
Using cartoon characters to deliver important messages to children and adults isn’t new. Dating back to the 1940s, Smokey Bear has been used to teach children that only they, along with proper parent supervision, can prevent forest fires. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service has used Woodsy Owl, a self-proclaimed “whimsical fellow,” to motivate kids to “form healthy, lasting relationships with nature.”
Craven said that Garfield is a “multi-generational” cartoon that is “as popular now as he ever was.” Because of his celebrity status, Garfield’s usability as a cybersecurity education spokesman is cemented. For example, the program is being tested in Kuwait and Craven said that he and his group are in conversations with other leaders and companies to bring the Garfield cybersecurity program to other countries and institutions.
When children, adults and even security researchers are really hating Mondays they should hop on over and read Garfield and his friend’s cybersecurity adventures. Or maybe wait until Tuesday.
To keep up with the constantly evolving world of privacy and security sign up for the Bloomberg BNA Privacy and Security Update.
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