Why Businesses Should Take Note of Safer Internet Day

Safer Internet Day - Small businesses should be awareToday marks the tenth anniversary of Safer Internet Day. Backed by Insafe, a European network of Awareness Centres promoting safe, responsible use of the internet and mobile devices, it has never been more important than in today’s tech-driven world. From a recent high profile hack attack on 250,000 Twitter accounts to cybercrime costing the UK economy £27 billion a year, staying safe online is vital in our personal and professional lives. While the Safer Internet Day initiative is predominantly aimed at children and young people to help raise awareness of security and safety online in an increasingly tech-driven world, there are lessons that professionals and businesses can also take away from it.

It’s easy to think, ‘it won’t happen to me’ and rely on good fortune to avoid any of your personal and professional accounts or data being hacked. However, recent high-profile security hacks demonstrate that this is unlikely. In addition, what happens to you and your accounts online could also have a negative impact on your organisation or business, leading to security breaches and potentially even a heightened risk of cybercrime.

There are ever increasing numbers of touch points to access the internet, whether on a computer, via a smartphone, on a social network or when opening a work file. A recent survey from the UK Safer Internet Centre showed that 96% of 11 to 19 year olds use the web to communicate but 45% of 16- to 19-year-olds said they had not been taught about staying safe online. It’s hugely important to educate the next generation on how to stay safe online, especially as these touch points and web interfaces multiply faster than we can potentially keep up. Luckily, Safer Internet Day aims to do just that – raise awareness among young people for the need for security.

What is equally important is to ensure that professionals and adults are also aware of the potential risks and security pitfalls that technology and online communications present. And that they learn from these. In my opinion, the main points that professionals and organisations need to take away from Safer Internet Day are:

  • Awareness and education – put security policies and measures in place to give employees best practice and regular training on how to avoid being unsafe online
  • Review preparations for security breaches regularly – unlike traditional economic crime, new risks emerge all the time in cybercrime so organisations must adapt
  • Ensure senior management are involved and understand the risks so they can set a good example to staff

The more we can take preventative measures instead of relying on a cure once the safety barriers have been breached, the better-placed our organisations will be to deal with cyber risks and threats. Safer Internet Day plays a vital role in raising awareness of the security issues, especially to help inform and educate the next generation to whom we will be leaving our businesses and data, but it’s up to businesses and organisations to act upon and enforce security measures right here and right now.

By Rob Newburn, Head of Information Security & Managed Services, Trustmarque

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