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February 6th, 2014
01:59 PM ET

Cybersecurity not "only for the nerds"

You might not worry a lot about cybersecurity, but it's an issue that affects everyone online.

Militaries and governments see cyberattacks as serious threats.

Businesses and individuals can be impacted by data theft. In fact, just last month, 20 million South Koreans had their personal data stolen in a colossal breach.

Why is this happening? And how can we protect ourselves?

I recently spoke with P.W. Singer, Director of The Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution. He's also co-author of the newly released book, "Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What everyone needs to know."

Singer says one factor behind the wave of recent major data breaches is something he calls the "Cybersecurity Knowledge Gap." It refers to political and business leaders tasked with managing cybersecurity but are themselves not cyber-literate.

"This gap is across the board," says Singer." And it's because we have an attitude that - as one White House official said - this is a domain 'only for the nerds.'"

"But we're all on cyberspace, we all depend on it, so we can't treat it as an issue for the I.T. crowd."

In a time of rising security breaches, cyberweapon development, and cyber-exposure as more devices get online, Singer is calling for a fundamental shift in attitude to embrace better "cyber hygiene."

"We teach our kids regular hygiene not just to protect themselves but everyone else they connect with during the day," he says.

"We need the same attitude when it comes to cyber hygiene and our collective responsibility at the global level all the way down to individual citizens and netizens."

It may start with updating your password or upgrading your firewall - just one step forward and away from an age of rising cyber insecurity.