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Safer Internet Day 2024 – top tips from the experts

Every day is a good day to stay safe online, but today’s a good excuse to start a conversation on internet safety.

user icon David Hollingworth
Tue, 06 Feb 2024
Safer Internet Day 2024 – top tips from the experts
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Safer Internet Day has rolled around again, and it’s a great opportunity to make internet safety a focus.

Whether you’re educating your friends and family or want to upskill your co-workers or staff, we have some safety tips from a range of industry experts.

Stay safe, folks!

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Reuben Koh, director of security technology and strategy APJ at Akamai

Steps Australian businesses can take to improve data protection

First of all, businesses need to implement a very rigorous vulnerability management program to ensure that any internet-facing and public-facing systems, applications and APIs are free of vulnerabilities. An essential part of this is to ensure that their systems are always up to date with the latest patches and hotfixes.

Secondly, organisations must implement a strong data protection strategy as they will be storing customers’ personal and financial information when customers transact with the business. There is a legal and ethical duty to safeguard this from unintended or unauthorised data exposure and to ensure that the privacy of customer data is kept intact.

Thirdly, businesses need to continuously ensure that not only their own employees but also their customers are continuously made aware of the latest threats and scam techniques and how to identify and mitigate them. More importantly, businesses should provide a channel for consumers to verify authenticity as well as to report scams. There are also many instances where customers would like to report being victimised by a scam but don’t know how to best contact the business.

By understanding the threats, implementing robust security measures and fostering an environment of awareness and education, we can help to ensure that our online experiences will be more enriching and safer.

Corey Nachreiner, chief security officer at WatchGuard Technologies

Talk about internet safety with your family

While every day is a good day to take stock of what you’re doing to protect yourself, your family and your organisation online, Safer Internet Day is a great opportunity to reflect on and discuss what more we can and should be doing to ensure a safer internet experience for children and young people. As the internet continues to be an integral part of our daily lives – and central to how many of us connect, learn and play – the goal of this annual observance is to foster a better internet for all by raising awareness around risks and sharing tips and resources the online community can use to navigate the web safely and more effectively.

Privacy considerations and other concerns related to AI are top of mind right now (for obvious reasons). With more and more AI tools and applications becoming publicly available and utilised by the masses, this year’s annual observance of Safer Internet Day is an opportune time to shine a light on AI technology risks as well as company practices that could improve children’s safety online. Many early AI services and tools, including ChatGPT, employ a usage model that’s similar to social media services like Facebook and TikTok. While you don’t pay money to use those platforms, you are compensating them through sharing your private data, which these companies could leverage and monetise through practices like ad targeting. Remember, if a service you use is “free”, it’s likely that you and your data are the product.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that effective cyber security and online safety practices rely only in part on the technology we use to protect ourselves and our data. The truth is that security and privacy breaches are still often the result of mundane mistakes or simple human error.

Jessie Downey, senior clinical adviser at headspace

What young people can do about sextortion

There are major barriers to young people seeking help after an experience of sextortion, including feelings of embarrassment or shame and fear of backlash from others.

Given this can be a really frightening and distressing experience for young people, it is important to get support if you feel you’re not coping. If you don’t feel ready to talk to somebody you know, there are lots of free, confidential support services that can help.

We want young people to know that sextortion is a crime, and it’s never OK for somebody to share – or threaten to share – your images without your consent.

We are encouraging young people, and the people [who] support them, to be aware of sextortion, to understand that it is not the young person’s fault and encourage reaching out for support if it is happening to you.

There are things you can look out for online that might indicate you’re experiencing sextortion. Feeling pressured, tricked, or made to feel bad about yourself if you don’t share your sexual photos or videos may be warning signs.

If you’re not sure whether you’re experiencing sextortion, but something doesn’t feel quite right, it’s best to trust your gut feeling and chat [with] somebody you trust.

Patrick Harding, chief product architect at Ping Identity

Boost your password security

The internet is a double-edged sword. It offers convenience, productivity, accessibility and worldwide scale, while criminals leverage it to launch cyber attacks on individuals and businesses alike, aimed at stealing personal information for financial gain. Safer Internet Day serves as a reminder to be vigilant about what and how digital identity data is shared, collected and stored, especially given the increasing prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI) tools.

The day also underscores the value of relying on authentication methods that provide more security and convenience – like passwordless and multi-factor authentication (MFA) when accessing information online. In fact, 50 per cent of consumers say MFA makes them feel better about the service they are using and 65 per cent would switch to a comparable brand if it offered passwordless authentication. It’s never been easier for businesses to meet consumer demands while making the internet a safer place.

Andrew Black, Managing Director at ConnectID

Manage your digital identity

Our increasing reliance on online services, coupled with the rise in data breaches and scams, brings the importance of online safety to the forefront. While sharing data is often necessary online, minimising the amount of data we share overall is crucial to better protecting ourselves. This includes both not oversharing unnecessary details (like date of birth where age verification would suffice), as well as reducing the number of platforms the data is shared to.

Digital identity solutions can be a simple and secure way to reduce the amount of data shared to only what is essential. Leveraging existing, trusted sources, like banks, to verify the identity of users also means we avoid duplicating copies of our personal data online, in turn reducing our exposure to risk. Such solutions also foster safer interactions by verifying that people are in fact who they say they are. By authenticating users online, we can help to reduce fraudulent and scam interactions for both users and businesses, whilst still protecting the privacy of the user.

Akbar Akhtar, Binance's Head of Investigations for APAC

Be wary of crypto schemes

Although global data indicates the efforts of the crypto industry to push out scam activities is working, it is always worth paying extra attention to fend off potential bad actors whether within crypto or traditional finance.

The first method is applying standard cyber security hygiene practices. This includes the basics, like unique and complex passwords, checking privacy settings to control access to personal data, utilising MFA where possible, and not clicking links or answering unknown sources.

As a rule of thumb, it’s best to treat everyone online with healthy scepticism. If it’s too good to be true, it most definitely is. And if you feel rushed – don’t go ahead with anything. There is always time for due diligence.

George Harb, Vice President, ANZ at OpenText

Understand the nature of the data you want to protect

Creating a safer internet starts with a better understanding of what personal information you have, and how it’s being used. For Australians, this can be as simple as backing up their data or being more conscious about the kinds of information they share.

For businesses it’s about having the right tools to protect consumer privacy while managing their data ethically and responsibly. What this means is building ways of leveraging data that don't impact the privacy of individual customers and maintaining the ability to update these processes as legislation changes. Creating a safer more secure internet is not a solo effort, it’s collaborative, and getting there will require a concerted effort from all industries, both public and private.

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