The Internet is currently abuzz with special days to remind us ‘we are not safe in the cyber world’. Last month the ‘International Data Privacy Day‘ was celebrated with great enthusiasm. On February 9 this year, organizations are again upbeat on celebrating ‘Safer Internet Day’ with the theme of “Together for a better internet”.
There is no doubt that the cyberspace is a breeding ground for hackers and cyber criminals. Moreover, last year, cyber-attacks had seen an unprecedented increase due to work from home and several other factors and it is expected to rise even further in 2021, a reason why we should be reminded about online safety and educate people and organizations on how to prepare and react when faced with cyber threats. But advocating for safer internet isn’t just a one day occasion; It should be an everyday mission.
Nonetheless, Safer Internet Day is a special day in history and needs a special mention. With its roots in Europe, it is an annual worldwide event that goes a long way in raising awareness for Internet safety and education. Currently, more than 150 countries globally celebrate Safer Internet Day and this year many organizations are hosting webinars or podcasts about online safety.
Together for a better Internet
“Safer internet day is perhaps more important than ever this year. In the last 12 months, the way we worked or accessed education has changed beyond recognition,” Adam Palmer, Chief Cybersecurity Strategist, Tenable said.
He explained that many of the cloud-based tools and services are accessed using personal devices that are unsecured or beyond the remit of the IT or security team. This expanded attack service presents an attractive target for attackers who frequently use personal devices to not only steal data on the device itself, but also look to move laterally across networks and cause further harm.
Research shows a dismal cybersecurity landscape in India, which is the second-largest online market in the world, only after China. In a report published by OLX on the Internet usage habits of Indians, the internet usage of Indians spiked by 50% due to the pandemic and has also led to the increase in cyber frauds across 61% of Indian households. It added that the focus on right to privacy has pushed 81% of Indian Internet users to stop using or considering not using certain apps. In addition, 45% of the users said that they verify any news or information shared online, before acting upon them.
According to the study, 58% of the respondents said that all members of their families access the internet frequently while 15% said that the primary users of the Internet in their household were the elderly members. Meanwhile, 82% said they were aware of heightened cyber frauds that originated during the pandemic.
Remote work, coupled with the rapid development of new technologies such as AI/ML, IoT and blockchain etc., has indeed spurred the complexity and sophistication of cyber-threats. As Satya Machiraju, Vice President, Information Security, Whatfix, said, “Through this global crisis, the internet has enabled seamless ways of connecting socially distanced people, and powering digital healthcare, education, and commerce. Organizations were quick to transition entire workforces to the remote workspace within a matter of days but along with accelerated digital transformation, the complexity and sophistication of cyber threats has also increased.”
“The pandemic birthed new ways of targeting the vulnerabilities of individuals and organizations with data-harvesting malware, ransomware, online scams and phishing. This has made it even more important for organizations to foster a culture of security that prioritizes cyber hygiene among employees, customers and the entire community,” Machiraju said.
The reality is, there’s no system that’s unhackable. But there’s a wealth of resources available, as well as some relatively simple and cost-effective steps that organizations can practice to minimize the chances of compromising their Internet security. As Bhavin Turakhia, Founder & CEO, Flock said, “Owing to this unprecedented rise in IT security breaches, there is a need for organizations and individuals to be alert about how their data is collected, used, shared and the steps that need to be taken to better manage confidential information. In such a situation, businesses need to constantly evaluate the platforms and apps they leverage for business purposes, from a data security perspective.”
To keep the internet safe, Turakhia suggests that enterprises should opt for workplace collaboration and communication platforms that have in-built enterprise security features such as data encryption, strong privacy policies and strict controls over data access and user rights. “With newer threats surfacing every single day, organizations also need to invest in the training of their IT teams and employees with the knowledge and skill-sets required to tackle today’s advanced cyber-threats.”
But organizations can’t afford to leave it to just one day a year.
Safer internet initiative is an ongoing process as there’s a lot more at stake than the way we approach interactions and our activity on the web. The company’s safety focus needs to include employees, customers and the wider community from the information and data they collect and store. In such a scenario, Shibu Paul, VP – International Sales at Array Networks believes that ensuring data safety is of utmost importance for organizations across sectors.
“The cyber risk management practices and mindsets of yesterday no longer suffice and may actually inhibit innovation. It is incumbent upon CISOs to focus on nurturing strong cyber security culture with appropriate levels for governance, prioritization, management focus, and ownership,” Paul said.
Palmer agreed that good security awareness and basic cyber hygiene prevents mistakes that can cause serious harm. In tandem, it is critical that users take responsibility for updating and securing their devices
The following are some of the best ways to recognize the spirit of Safer Internet Day every day:
Focus on Password Safety: Remind employees to always use a strong password. You should also encourage your staff to create different passwords for each account. It can also be helpful to use two-factor authentication any time it’s offered in order to keep accounts as secure as possible.
Keep All Devices Locked Down: No matter what devices your employees use for work—including tablets, smartphones, or computers—they should all only be accessible to one employee. This means all devices should require authentication, such as a password, facial recognition, or fingerprint. This way, no one outside the company can easily unlock the device and retrieve sensitive information about the company.
Keep Security Options Updated: Another way to protect employees’ devices on a regular basis is to be sure they have updated features to keep them secure. This includes firewalls and antivirus software to stop potential cyber crimes from taking place and putting company information at risk.
Remind Your Employees about email Safety: Your employees are bound to get emails from unknown senders quite often. Make sure they know not to click on any links or download attachments from those emails which often contain virus.
Provide Security Training to Your Company: One of the best ways to celebrate Safer Internet Day any day is to deploy security awareness training to your employees on a regular basis.
Cybersecurity challenges are complex and there’s no silver bullet to creating a better and safer internet. It is only through the concerted efforts by the government, organizations and individual we can raise awareness on internet safety and encourage safe, responsible and positive use of digital technologies.