Safer Internet Day, held annually on 8th February, promotes safer practices and better safeguarding on the internet, covering a broad range of areas such as cyberbullying, cybercrime, and digital identity. The day is particularly relevant this year with the development of the Online Safety Bill leading recent discussions on how best to protect internet users of all ages. The Bill aims to set out new regulations for internet usage, potentially making private companies criminally liable should they fail to protect vulnerable users.
The Bill has proven that cybersecurity and the responsible handling of data are integral to business operations, both for employees and end-users. With this in mind, what do businesses need to consider when adopting better digital practices? We spoke to some of the technology industry’s leading experts about what Safer Internet Day means to them:
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Early investment in digital literacy
One of Safer Internet Day’s key focuses is child protection. “Children and youth today are ‘digital-natives’”, conveyed Aaron Rosenmund, Director of Security Research and Curriculum at Pluralsight, “they have never known a world without the internet. However, their innate participation in the digital space doesn’t mean they know how to use technology responsibly or critically.”
For Rosenmund, teaching cybersecurity skills from a young age is fundamental, but education shouldn’t stop there: “digital literacy goes beyond technical know-how. Our youth need the knowledge, skills and attitudes that allow children to be both safe and empowered in an increasingly digital world. This encompasses the ability to effectively use and create technology-based content, including finding, evaluation and sharing information, and interacting with others.”
Ideally, this education would translate into continuous digital upskilling in the workplace. As Jonathan Smee, Cybersecurity Technical Coach at Grayce, argued, “organisations should look to provide continuous learning opportunities and adequate training to keep their employees up-to-date with the latest cyber threat trends. Provide a robust training programme and equip them with the core skills such as Cloud Computing and Application Programming Interface are critical, as this help with understanding the various attack vectors that hackers can exploit within the tech stack.”
Securing the hybrid workplace
Business operations across industries have undoubtedly been transformed in the last two years, bringing new cybersecurity challenges to the forefront. “With enterprises conducting more and more of their business activity online, sharing more information with third-party networks, the surface area for cyberattacks has never been greater,” said Simon Mullis, Chief Technology Officer at Venari. Rosenmund echoed this, stating that due to the growth of the hybrid workplace, “cybersecurity threats are becoming increasingly advanced. In fact, in 2021, corporate networks saw 50% more attacks per week when compared to the previous year.”
So, what can enterprises do to combat this? According to Mullis, “to help reduce the risk to consumer data in the event of increasingly common breaches, many companies are now turning to end-to-end encryption.” But this is no silver bullet – “cybercriminals are now also reaping the benefits by concealing malware communications and exfiltrating data in encrypted network traffic to avoid detection.”
To overcome this, businesses need to move away from a “decryption then detection” approach: “instead, security teams need to adopt a ‘measure and mitigate’ approach. Using behavioural analytics to detect illegitimate activity will help organisations understand what’s happening on their network in the moment.”
Developments in connectivity
Securing the hybrid workplace has become more complex. According to James Weaver, Director of Product Marketing at Cradlepoint, “the ways that businesses connect to the internet are rapidly developing. Networks are expanding, spreading across multiple locations, and this can be incredibly difficult for IT teams to manage and secure.” The rollout of 5G and its integration into business plans has raised further questions about enterprise security. For instance, “businesses are concerned about their enlarged attack surface resulting from rapidly increasing IoT.”
Still, Weaver emphasises that “5G could be transformative when it comes to secure networking. Along with its native security advancements, higher performance and lower latency will provide the headroom to run more advanced security diagnostics. By deploying new 5G technologies, businesses will be more flexible and dynamic, whilst still allowing cybersecurity teams to secure these large, distributed networks.”
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As the internet evolves and the ways businesses and the public use it changes, the challenges for cybersecurity will inevitably grow and become more complex. However, if businesses can incorporate continuous learning and vigilance into their business strategies, the full potential of the digital world could be harnessed safely.