Biden is worried about cybersecurity. Japan says watch cartoons

It's hard to make people care about cybersecurity. A Japanese company, however, has a suggestion.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer

Can it work? It's surely worth trying to animate people on the topic.

Screenshot by ZDNet

It's easy to admire those with lofty dreams.

As long as they don't express them with depressingly egotistical certainty, that is. Which does rule out one or two tech CEOs and three or four tech PR people.

Still, I was moved when a Japanese company contacted me and claimed its aim is "to create a secure cyberspace that people around the world can use safely."

Wouldn't that be something? Yet here we are with President Biden cyber-rattling at America's enemies and worrying that the nation's cybersecurity just isn't good enough.

What, then, could Japan's Cyber Security Cloud do with its pleasingly idealistic bent?

First, sadly, I had to endure the product hard sell. Cyber Security Cloud insists it has WafCharm. The mere idea that a security cloud could enjoy any charm at all seems wildly fanciful.

CSC persisted, however, that WafCharm is actually "the only service on the market that automatically builds, tests and tunes AWS WAF rules, and continuously defends against zero-day threats." While presumably offering an occasional quip, witticism or flattering remark to make users feel warm all over.

I wanted to believe it. I had little reason not to, other than my terminal skepticism. So I thought I'd flex a little of my off-charm and asked: "Look, you can't really have cybersecurity because humans are deeply imperfect and make terrible mistakes, such as opening attachments coming from nefarious sorts."

"We have an answer to that," said a vibrantly serene CSC spokesperson. "Well, at least the beginning of an answer."

"Pray, what would that be?"


I feared a translation had been lost in an insecure cloud. 

"Seriously," came the polite interjection from CSC's CEO Toshihiro Koike. "Japanese people are very used to learning things such as history and science through anime/manga at a young age. In our culture, we believe that anime/manga is a great way to learn, especially because it is convenient and entertaining."

But that's not going to work in America, is it? We love shooting and killing games for convenience and entertainment.

Koike wasn't having it: "We believe teaching Americans about cybersecurity through anime/manga would work really well. If you educate Americans about cybersecurity using anime characters popular in the US, it will be easier for the audience to understand cybersecurity, especially since most people are unfamiliar with the topic."

Past research has suggested that millennials are twice as likely to ignore office IT rules. Which warms CSC's heart.

"The anime/manga strategy may be especially relevant for millennials and Gen Z, who grew up with anime in American pop culture," said Koike.

So, I asked, does CSC teach its own employees this way? 

"We create anime for our new employees so they can learn about cybersecurity basics," said Koike. "We also utilize anime to teach our clients about security threats and countermeasures since, most of the time, they are unaware of certain strategies or don't have enough knowledge regarding the topic."

Wait, significant companies don't have enough knowledge about cyberthreats? Could this be one of the reasons why they're being hacked?

I can't promise you cartoons will animate your cybersecurity. Somehow, those who created the internet-based systems upon which we rely didn't sufficiently consider how easily they could be breached.

Still, it's worth exercising a little imagination to make things even slightly better.

So, President Biden, perhaps cartoons are the way to get Americans to be more cyber-conscious. 

Perhaps there might be some congressional money for this. After all, there are so many cartoon characters in Congress that they'll surely all support it.

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