In these uncertain times, cyber security is predictably rising to the top of everyone's agenda. A reactive approach to fraud, data breaches, and even cyber propaganda no longer suffices. With spies warning that elections are at risk from cyber-attacks aimed at destabilizing democratic procedure, it is evident that a proactive approach is necessary to protect our future in an always-online digital world.
Government Action Against Cyber-Crime
The British government is preparing for such challenges by launching a new cyber curriculum. It is hoped that these extracurricular clubs will encourage citizens to learn cutting-edge, cyber-security skills to ensure the nation is protected from what is increasingly every nations' biggest virtual threat.
The crime figures that are often reported by news agencies do not account for the growing rates of cyber-crime. Street crime and physical offenses are usually centerpieces of crime statistics. However, the absence of cyber-crimes from any official report is conspicuous and possibly dangerous.
The public has an inaccurate sense of where their greatest threats are coming from. For example, it is more likely that you know someone affected by card cloning or cyber-fraud than material theft. In the UK, it is already becoming common knowledge that cybercrime has overtaken traditional crime.
Best Practices for a New Age
Users typically cast aside any streetwise vigilance when they go online. However, the reality is that upgrading our security precautions online should be paramount. Somewhere along the way, criminals got tech savvy, and we need to meet the challenge, particularly since digital transformation encompasses more and more of our lives, and our privacy.
Although software updates, password management or any form of online security responsibility might feel like too much hassle, it is probably your best defense against being another crime statistic.
User Education Is Essential
In light of widespread breaches, CEOs are finally waking up to their online responsibilities. The increasing threat of online attacks and losing electronic data is beginning to affect companies where it hurts.
The UK's National Cyber Security Centre told the BBC that they are proactive by providing "real-time cyber-threat information to 3,000 organizations from over 20 different industries, offering incident management handling and fostering technical innovation."
Despite online security initiatives, the weakest area of any cyber-defense typically comes from the users. Education is essential to ensure students have the required new skills to fill emerging security gaps. Additionally, there needs to be a focus on educating users on how to stay safe when using the Internet. Spear-Phishing email attacks are still tricking users into clicking links or downloading attachments that contain viruses or malware.
Isn't it time that we started taking more responsibility for our online actions? Or at least operate with the same vigilance that we naturally use in our physical world?
Most people do not think twice about using their work email address for personal communication, or about what information they are sharing with the world on social media. This habit must change. Governments, business and users all need to work together to ensure our safety. We urgently need a cyber-ethic.
Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility.