Post by Salvatore Guerrera, IT Security Specialist at IBM (@tore_gu)
An Introduction to the Cyber Security Awareness
Nowadays people live in a technological and sophisticated world: wearable devices, smart houses, driverless cars are elements belonging to the same puzzle, the Internet of Things (IoT). It is giving the world an ocean of opportunities and interconnection represents a major trend on the cyberspace: businesses are moving online, social relations are established on the internet and life is shared on the screen. However this ocean hides tricky issues. There are dangers and risks everybody should be conscious about and the major concerns are related to the new generations. They represent an increasing population growing in a digital era which lacks cybersecurity awareness, the road to train people to meet the challenges posed by the Internet.
Cybersecurity awareness focuses on raising consciousness regarding potential risks and threats to the information which target human behavior in order to gather sensitive information.
Hence human behavior is the key element to be educated. Since 2009 the President of the United States asked for a campaign to help Americans open their eyes on the dangers occurring when they are online and what they can do to protect themselves and their children.
Risks and Dangers in the Childhood
Returning in the ocean, the common online issues facing teens include:
- Cyber Predators: people who search online for other people in order to use, control or harm them in some way.
- Cyber Bullying: is the electronic posting of mean-spirited messages about a person, often anonymously.
- Identity Theft: people can steal and use your personal information to open accounts, make purchases.
- 7 in 10 young people are victims of cyberbullying.
- 37% young people experiencing are cyberbullying on a high-frequency basis.
- 75% of children are willing to share personal information online about themselves and their family in exchange for goods and services.
From Internet Safety 101:
- 82% of sex crimes involving a minor are initiated from social sites.
- 56% of kids sexually solicited online were asked to send a picture; 27% of pictures were sexually oriented in nature.
In order to face these issues, the information below is a brief checklist of tips to protect the kids and teens:
- From cyber predators and bullies:
- Keeping the personal information private.
- Avoiding sharing personal name, address, telephone number, birthday, passwords and the name of own school.
- Thinking twice before posting or saying anything online: once it is in cyberspace, it is out there forever.
- Treating others like you want to be treated.
- From identity thefts:
- Checking with parents emails asking for personal information. There are emails that look official but they could be a trick to get personal information. These emails seem urgent.
- Choosing a screen name or email address that is not the user’s real name
Creating strong passwords with at least 8 characters using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
- Thinking before clicking on a link.
One of the favourite channels where it is possible to encounter the “cyber dangers” is social media. The following percentages regarding the use of social media for teens confirm the social media usage:
- 71% percent of teens use Facebook.
- 52% percent of teens use Instagram.
- 41% percent of teens use Snapchat.
- 33% percent of teens use Twitter.
- 33% percent of teens use Google+.
To complete the analysis two facts have to be reported:
- 71% of teens use more than one social network site.
- Girls dominate social media and boys are more likely to play video games online.
What the World is Doing
It is clear the need for a security awareness program in order to prepare everyone, from children to adults, to to meet the ever-evolving challenges posed by the internet. Some valuable examples of how the world is meeting the global cyber security challenge are the following:
- USA: the “STOP.THINK.CONNECT” campaign by the Homeland Security.
- United Kingdom: the “Think u know” website developed by the NCA (National Crime Agency) and CEOP (Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre).
- Spain: the “Hacker Highschool” from the ISECOM open community.
- South Africa: the “Cyber Security Awareness” project from the UNISA (University of South Africa).
Cyber Security awareness is a priority in the United States and its relevance is growing in other countries because of the impact of the cybercrime on the world and the people.
Don’t lose time: Keep yourself and your children safe!