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The Safer Internet Day 2021: Together for a Better Future

Every 9th of February, we celebrate the day as Safer Internet Day where internet users and businesses from around the globe pledge to “make the internet a safer and better place for all, and especially for children and young people.” This year, The Safer Internet Day marks its 18th edition since the idea was first conceived for creating awareness among young netizens. Today, we are seeking responsible and practical application of online assets and the new emerging concepts of social listening, speech and text analytics and computer vision have been pitched as guardians of ‘social media’ human rights. From stopping bots in crowd messaging to dispatching toolkits against political vendettas, there is a lot that requires to be done still.

We spoke to Robert Prigge, CEO of Jumio to understand how the internet can be a better place for every user, especially children who are using online resources more than ever in 2021 due to COVID-19 induced restrictions on their schooling and playtime.

This is what Robert said —

“With after-school activities on pause and virtual learning in full swing as 1.2 billion children are out of the classroom due to COVID-19 restrictions, the internet has become critical for children to learn and connect with friends, family and classmates amid the pandemic.

However, this puts minors at an increased risk of falling victim to online predators, cyberbullying and inappropriate online content. Currently, there are limited age verification requirements preventing children from engaging in online chat or viewing inappropriate content on social media platforms, and without identity verification it is impossible to confirm a user is who they claim to be online, which opens the door to malicious actors looking to harm minors or steal their personal information.

In addition, websites selling age-restricted products such as fireworks, tobacco and alcohol often authenticate users with a simple “are you of age?” pop-up button, which offers no real proof of age. Researchers at Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Software have discovered that it’s relatively easy for children to lie about their age or easily sidestep age verification protocols to access popular social media sites. This lets underage users view restricted websites and order products which could result in physical harm.

On Safer Internet Day and always, it is critical to recognize the need to protect minors online and hold online companies responsible for keeping minors safe while using their sites. The U.S. is likely to follow in the footsteps of Ofcom, the UK’s first internet watchdog, by implementing new legislation aimed to mitigate social harm, enforce age verification and remove legal protections for tech companies that fail to police illegal content. And it’s time online organizations start preparing for those laws. As learning, communications and social interaction continue remotely into 2021, online businesses must implement stronger age and identity verification methods to regulate age-restricted content and purchases, while policing age on social platforms, to protect minors and ultimately take a stand against social harm and create a safer internet.”

James Carder, CSO of LogRhythm  said –

Safer Internet Day is an important reminder that the rapidly expanding digital world needs to be protected and preserved for everyone. With over 4.5 billion internet users across the globe, the internet has become a daily necessity that many are reliant upon to work, learn and communicate. While it is important to recognize the growing value that the online community provides, it’s equally imperative to acknowledge that organizations and consumers alike can continue to make the internet safer and more secure.

  As remote work continues amid the pandemic, online activity has increased substantially for most consumers. This means more data is shared across the web and sensitive information is exchanging hands at an all-time high. The substantial increase in online and mobile consumption puts more pressure on organizations to ensure consumers’ information is protected against data breaches and cyberattacks as hackers are preying on this heightened activity. We saw some record breaches in 2020 that serve as a reminder for companies to ensure they are employing zero-trust paradigms and strong detection and response capabilities to address vulnerabilities and incidents when their impacts can be minimized. Malicious actors continue to target government, manufacturing, healthcare and education sectors via phishing attacks and other social engineering tactics, and it remains critical for organizations in these industries to ramp up investments in cybersecurity measures.

  Consumers also need to be aware of how companies are using their information. Only one-in-five consumers regularly read a company’s privacy policy before agreeing to it, and many entrust or lend information without proper understanding of how it will be used. To start, internet users can read frequented retailers privacy policies to determine what information is being recorded. Knowing that free platforms are constantly collecting data as a method of payment must be top of mind for internet users. Aspects of personal information such as location, contact information and search history can all be accessed and leveraged.

 Lawmakers are beginning to take more notice as well and recent legislation ranging from GDPR to the California Data Privacy Act are making sure that consumers have a better understanding and control of their sensitive information. Future regulations and statutes will continue to build consumer trust and make it harder for malicious actors to obtain sensitive information. By staying diligent and informed, consumers, organizations and lawmakers can make the internet a safer place for everyone.”

At the time of writing this blog, Lex Boost, CEO, Leaseweb USA said, “Today we are more dependent on the internet than ever and are using it in new and creative ways to assist in everyday activities. With this increased use, reinforcing internet safety procedures is critical.

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Cybercriminals are constantly looking for ways to negatively impact internet experiences and the vast size of the internet means that keeping the internet safe is a communal task. Businesses can contribute to the task by ensuring company-wide cybersecurity tools are in place, promoting internet safety best practices for employee use, and by working alongside organizations whose mission is to keep the internet safe.

Internally, employers should be implementing strong cybersecurity tools to ensure that their team’s internet usage is secure. A managed cybersecurity solution from a hosting provider can provide a company with enhanced physical and cybersecurity measures including intake investigations, vulnerability detection, and 24/7 security monitoring.

It is also important for best safety practices to be promoted in any work environment, especially a remote work environment. The first thing to ensure is that employees are utilizing a robust internet security software that includes firewalls, pop-up blockers, vulnerability scanning, and email spam filters. Other safety practices include regularly updating your password, connecting to a VPN when accessing company data, not clicking on links in emails unless they are confirmed to be 100% safe, and backing up data regularly.

Importantly, companies can be a part of the communal solution by supporting non-profits that monitor, identify and combat cybercrime around the world. We at Leaseweb work closely with a number of these organizations including CyberDefconShadow Server, and Stop Forum Spam. Tech companies in particular can provide tools to these non-profits such as servers and network bandwidth.

Keeping the internet safe requires a combination of tactics. But deploying company-wide tools, promoting employee best practices and working as a global network can go a long way in combating those that seek to make the internet dangerous.”

Jay Ryerse, VP Cybersecurity Initiatives, ConnectWise said – “Safer Internet Day serves as a reminder that tech scams are on the rise around the globe. For both individuals and organizations, it’s important to stop and analyze how our online habits could lend themselves to an invasion of privacy or loss of data.

With a remote workforce, company and personal devices are being used to access the internet, and many without pre-installed endpoint protection. When it comes to protection, just having anti-virus software is not enough. There’s more to securing a device including EDR, DNS security, enforcement of proper security policies and user education.

To avoid a cyber incident, it’s important for users to be aware of the applications they’re installing, websites they’re browsing, and links they’re clicking on. Being safe online means that we need to take a second look at how and when we use our devices.

The biggest threats today are business email compromise and ransomware. All it takes is one person not paying attention, and user credentials can be compromised or malware given permission to install. Businesses need to take responsibility for providing security education, training and guidance on policies for their employees and clients. In doing so, team members learn how to protect sensitive information, understand their responsibilities, and recognize signs of a malicious threat.”

Ralph Pisani, president, Exabeam said –

“In recent months, we witnessed one of the broadest cyberattacks in our history, affecting government organizations, enterprises and even cybersecurity leaders. Sadly, that means that as a society and an industry, we are still failing to learn the best practices necessary for safeguarding our digital identities. This impacts both individuals and enterprises. In the far corners of the internet, credentials remain the most valuable asset for malicious actors.

To achieve a safer, more secure internet, we must teach users proper credential protection through security awareness training, including using multi-factor authentication. We can employ security solutions that protect email servers, but individuals should also be able to accurately spot phishing emails in their personal and professional email accounts. Organizations can use proactive threat intelligence to identify campaigns targeted at them, and behavioral analytics technology to reliably distinguish the abnormal activity of attackers from normal user behavior to identify and remove intruders from the network.

As we do each year, Exabeam joins the cyber community to raise awareness of Safer Internet Day. We share these suggestions to educate and ensure the internet serves the greater good, while fulfilling the mission of creating a better online experience for everyone and helping security teams outsmart the odds.”

Ashish Gupta, Bugcrowd CEO & President also shared his insights. Ashish said,

“The internet has long been an important means for most of the globe to operate on a day-to-day basis, and the recent pandemic has elevated it to an even more essential component of our daily lives. Safer Internet Day is a significant observance and serves as a call to action for organizations and consumers alike to make the global online network a more valuable and protected resource.

In light of recent data breaches and hacks, organizations have even more of an obligation to protect customer information. Consumer trust is drastically low regarding data privacy, with 79% of adults expressing concerns over how companies are using and collecting data. To truly make the internet a better place, enterprises must adopt crowdsourced cybersecurity as an integral component of security posture. By making strategic investments in a layered cybersecurity approach to protect consumers, who are ultimately the biggest victims when cyberattacks and data breaches occur, organizations can meet the challenges of a distributed workforce and protect sensitive data from evolving threats.

From a consumer standpoint, identity theft and data breaches have been rising at a rapid pace—but there are numerous ways to ensure online browsing and interactions are safeguarded. Parental controls can be installed to ensure young children aren’t viewing explicit content, and users can opt out of data collection wherever possible to keep sensitive information confidential. Additionally, using multiple strong passwords, implementing two-factor authentication across accounts, sending encrypted files and installing spyware and anti-virus software on devices can provide protection against viruses and malicious threat actors. It takes a community of defenders to combat a community of adversaries, and when we all come together, we can collectively make the internet a safer environment for everyone.”

(To share your insights, please write to us at sghosh@martechseries.com)

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