Sunday, 8 May 2016

Cyber Street Unwise

A few days ago the Register published an article about the waste of £20million pounds on Cyber Prevention. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/05/04/ukgov_uncoordinated_illinformed_and_utterly_ineffective_on_cybercime/


One of the findings in the report was that despite spending this money only 15% or so of people had heard of Get Safe Online (GSOL) https://www.getsafeonline.org/

Well that would be a sad story IF GSOL had received this alleged £20M

It hasnt.

In fact the Register got it wrong, but only in detail, such as who is responsible for spending that money. GSOL are not. They receive a max of £70k from Govt so not a bad return 13% of the population for £70K
So who has spent it?
Well its a secretive organisation called Cyber Street Wise https://www.cyberstreetwise.com/ (CSW)
I use the word "secret" because they do not want to tell you who is in charge, nor how they spend their money. Despite the logo "HM Government" in the top left hand corner, a request for a copy of their budget received a response of  "Only with a Freedom of Information Act" request will we tell you
And then the response was merely to say £4m per year. No budget, no accounts or outline. Just a single number. In fact they have had about £20m and I believe most has been spent on Saatchi and Co
http://www.thedrum.com/news/2014/01/13/uk-government-urges-public-be-cyber-streetwise-new-campaign-mc-saatchi
At the time their Saatchi Chairman Tim Duffy,  said: “This campaign represents one of the most relevant public information campaigns of our time. In cyberstreetwise.com we have created a campaign idea that is as flexible as it is powerful. The success of the campaign will be more and more people in Britain knowing how to be secure online and as a consequence helping to build an even stronger British economy.”

A further request to know who is leading CSW produced a response that stated in relation to the management team of the Cyber Streetwise campaign, "after careful consideration, we judge that the information you request is exempt from disclosure under section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”)."

So much for open Government

No wonder The Register found it so hard to understand who does what.

The campaign from CSW was not about promoting GSOL. In fact they rarely mention GSOL in any of their media.
CSW rarely engages with real dynamic issues and seems to replicate the same mantra on Twitter. Have a look at their feed for example. No doubt a Bot controls the Twitter Feed as their is rarely any discussion. When TalkTalk broke they didn't seem to notice

So its not surprising that the Government's campaign is not working

Its Ok to moan but what should be done

1. Move a substantial amount of the CSW funding to GSOL.
2. Cancel the account with Saatchi
3. Put some of the money into supporting local businesses to engage, particularly through the CiSP.  https://www.cert.gov.uk/cisp/
4. Make the civil servants running CSW accountable and let people know who is in charge
5. Create and deliver Public accounts and performance targets for CSW

GSOL has been run on a shoe string for years and the fact that The Register didn't know about CSW is not surprising, albeit poor quality journalism.

Lets hope that Ministers wake up to this saga and help create a more effective strategy for public cyber protection





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