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There is an area of corporate responsibility that is largely neglected, but represents one of the most pressing issues in society today: the need to teach the underserved public-at-large how to be safe on the Internet.

This neglect exists in spite of the Internet’s largest enterprises and corporations establishing policies and programs of corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, partnering, and building globally inclusive communities.

Effective education of the general public in Internet safety is virtually nonexistent. Annual cybercrime costs have rocketed to $600 billion, up from $450 billion only two years ago. Internet criminals victimize millions of people every day, knowing they have not been effectively taught how to detect and avoid online scams. To quote H.G. Wells, “Civilization is in a race between education and catastrophe.”

To their credit, Google has its traveling “Internet Safety Roadshow,” but it is aimed exclusively at young schoolchildren, ignoring those who are being actively exploited today, those who are losing phenomenal amounts of money every hour to Internet crooks: adults.

Most all cyber-safety training programs offered to the general public (and there are very few) suffer this same deficit. While it’s great to have Internet safety programs aimed at children because “children are the future,” it’s a shame to do it at the expense of those who are being harmed now. It’s like making a sandwich in front of a poor, starving childless couple and promising to give it to their future children, while, in the meantime, the potential parents shrivel up and die.

Some will point to corporate employee training programs to counter what I am saying, but I contend that corporate and government agency Internet safety training programs are largely a failure. If they are such a success, why are government agencies and businesses of all sizes constantly being hacked to pieces?

Anyone remember the Great Equifax Hack of September 2017 that screwed over half the U.S. population? How about the revelation in October 2017 that all three billion Yahoo accounts had been hacked? Let us not forget March and April 2017, when huge numbers of security, forensics and hacking tools were stolen from the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, and then released on the Internet for all comers to have.

And those are only brief highlights from one year. Year after year, thousands of government agencies and companies around the world are plundered by online criminals because they fail to take the most basic, fundamental protective measures. Remember the U.S. Office of Personnel Management hack of 2015, when Internet crooks stole the private information of over 20 million government employees, including security clearance data? How about the Great Target Stores Hack of 2013, which was, in its day, the greatest hack of all times?

Of special note is the 2016 hack of ridesharing service Uber, when customer data of 57 million Uber customers was stolen. It gets worse, though. The theft wasn’t exposed until November, 2017. Also suppressed was the fact that Uber paid the hackers $100,000 to cover up the theft, a scenario I suspect plays out with many hacked companies and government agencies. I think it’s call extortion. Or, is it called blackmail?

There are two types of people in our increasingly-connected world: those who currently use the Internet, and those who will use it in the future. Those who benefit the most financially from this situation, the titans of the Internet, the giant megacorporations who dominate the global financial landscape, have not provided effectual Internet safety education to any of the world’s communities.

Do I sound a little upset about the situation? Well, OK, I confess I’m downright mad about it. For the past 10 years, thousands of people have taken my class, “Fight The Internet Bad Guys & Win!” at libraries and other venues around the state because they are desperate for high-quality information to keep themselves safe on the Internet. We are pioneers in the field. That’s great, but the need is much bigger than just Oklahoma.

The response here locally has been overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic. I think we’ve done a pretty good job, especially at the Norman Public Library, but we need some Internet bigshots like Michael Dell, Elon Musk, Ginni Rometty, Jeff Bozos, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Meg Whitman, Sundar Pichai, Mark Cuban, Larry Page, Carly Fiorina, Mitch Kapor, Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin to show up and see what we’re doing, because, I assure you, it is quite unique. Until you see it for yourself, you truly do not know.

Next class is scheduled for August 22, 2018, 6:30pm, Norman Public Library Central Location. Visit www.internetsafetygroup.com to see the official class description, video and to sign up online, or call the Library directly at (405) 701-2600. Register now, because when word gets out, seats will disappear fast.