Creating a Culture of Caring Through Awareness

Updated: Mar 2

Teresa Gerhke hold a card with horse drawing

Author: Teressa Gehrke

Over the last few weeks, I was gathering intel from the SANS Cyber Threat Intelligence Summit; attended the blockchain gathering, EthDenver; and then the SANS Open-Source Intelligence Summit. I have learned so much and met amazing, brilliant people in the past month. I used that time to gather topics of interest for my blog and to further my self-development.

What would you do?

Some of you may know me from webinars or conferences, school, a previous employer, or perhaps from this blog. How would you react if someone reached out to you asking for money on my behalf, saying that I was in trouble? If you’re family, you might oblige, but need more details. What if we had just met at work or at a conference? What would you do? Honestly, I hope you would see through the scam, but that’s not always the case. 

Who is Dan?

Let me introduce you to Dan Shields. He’s a real person. He leads a Colorado-based community organization called Cryptorado. It has over 3000 members who have an interest in blockchain. I met him at EthDenver in 2019. EthDenver is an annual event held in Denver centered around blockchain technology and education. He recently shared with me that some of his friends were targeted and successfully scammed by impersonators that stole money pretending to be him. 

Making Connections

I think we can all agree that 2020 and 2021 have been difficult. The thing I miss most is hugging people, like my friends and extended family. What do you miss? Grab a pen or pencil and write down three ways you connect with people. Now, read them aloud. Did it put a smile on your face? I hope so. We’ll revisit your list throughout the blog.

Dan shared his experience with me last week and it was such a compelling story that I asked him to share more details with me. Dan wrote, “Have I been successfully scammed? Not me personally, but my identity and my reputation have been used to steal from my friends… No less than $100,000 total has been stolen from people I care about, that cared about me enough to try and "help" by doing “me” a favor - it was an imposter. Under time pressure and out of kindness, they ignored the warning signs.” 

Our human connection and our connection with technology is so intertwined. That is essentially what I’m trying to illustrate with the Dark Shiny Unicorn blog. These two things cannot be separated.  

“I can't really express how deeply this pains me.” When Dan wrote those words, I could feel the pain in his soul and watching him tell the story last week, I could tell it still really pains him.

The Challenge

Remember the three things you wrote? Go back and look at them again. What would it take you to have that experience with those people, but also to sprinkle some love or caring in the form of cybersecurity awareness? Here are a few light-hearted examples you could use as a security professional:

I heard recently that people were getting sent scam emails about COVID-19 vaccines. Have you received any suspicious emails like that? I really care about you and I’m here to help you if you have questions about what you should or shouldn’t click on if you don’t know the person.