Opinion

The offline way to online safety

It seems the majority of Internet users in the UK aren’t ‘safety-aware’. According to a survey carried out by GetSafeOnline and the the BBC less than half the respondents believe that they are ‘primarily responsible’ for their online safety.

This is worrying. More and more of us bank online, pay bills online, and network online. Increased Internet usage brings an increased need to safeguard our online identity.

On the other hand, it’s not users who bear sole responsibility. Sadly, the use of one-time passwords and two-factor authentication aren’t standard across the banking community. And online stores that routinely send email confirmation of a customer’s chosen password in plain text is far from helpful (this has happened to me on several occasions and in each case, when I’ve challenged it, I’ve been told that it’s ‘standard practice’).

This survey makes me think we’re not getting the security message out to those who need it. There’s lots of great information out there, including at GetSafeOnline. But you have to know where (and how) to find it, not an easy task for an inexperienced user.

Maybe it’s time to shift the online security message into the offline world. For instance, a series of TV ads, like those used in anti drink driving and anti drugs campaigns. Print ads might also play a part – as security experts, we sometimes forget that people do still read newspapers. I’m sure a series of adverts like this would have more impact than just detailed sites which the target audience can’t, unfortunately, find.

The offline way to online safety

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