Many security and privacy difficulties arise because users are unaware of common threats on and vulnerabilities of IT systems. For example, so-called 'phishing attacks' often result from the average Internet user being insufficiently informed about the threats arising from casual use of e-mail and web-browsing. They also lead to problems such as identity theft, which is increasingly causing significant economic damage to individuals and businesses. It is estimated that between 2005 and 2007, 200 million records containing personal information were compromised by security breaches, most of which were made possible or facilitated by insufficient IT security awareness on the part of IT users. According to the "2008 Information Security Breaches Survey" commissioned by the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR), "an indicate estimate of the overall cost [arising to UK businesses from the damage caused by security incidents] is in the order of several billion pounds a year".
The goal of the proposed project is to raise public awareness of and engagement with the topic of IT security and privacy. A variety of activities will be used to achieve this, including an exhibition at the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, an interactive web-site, articles in newspapers and magazines, and an experimental virtual exhibition in the virtual life environment "Second Life". Subsequent to the currently proposed project we plan to turn the exhibition into a road show to reach an even wider audience.
The project will also be coordinated with other related activities by the project proposers outside the project, such as the writing of an introductory book on IT security under contract with Springer.