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Commentary: Safer Internet Day

February 2021 by Sanjiv Cherian, head of business development at A&O IT Group

Ahead of recognising Safer Internet Day tomorrow, below ther commentary from Sanjiv Cherian, head of business development at A&O IT Group, who shares his thoughts on just how important online safety is, the potential threats that the Internet poses and what we can do to protect ourselves:

“Today marks the 15th anniversary of recognising Safer Internet Day, and following a year of transformation, disruption, and the shift to completely new ways of working, learning and even socialising, it feels more important than ever that we take stock of our online safety.

In the last year we’ve seen the majority of the UK move from the security and technological maturity of the office or schools to home environments with less secure and unmonitored Wi-Fi networks, with an array of personal devices connected to them. Furthermore, the sharing of devices is something many families are having to juggle, with one laptop potentially being used for work, personal emails, social media, remote learning, gaming – you name it.

The Internet provides endless opportunities, but the threats it poses can be great too. With children being educated online, not only has the chance for cyberbullying increased immensely, but so too has the risk of malicious links being clicked on and unsecure web domains being used, leading to a potential breach of data privacy and security. Additionally, 2020 seemed to be the year of the smart device, with people investing in the likes of Peloton to keep fit, home entertainment systems to occupy their evenings, and smart doorbells to monitor who is coming and going. Adding all these devices, which inherently do not have a high-level of security built in, to the same home network could enable even a low skilled hacker to gain access to sensitive data or even control one of those connected devices. In a time where we rely on the Internet for almost every aspect of our lives, the population needs to know exactly what is connected to their network, who has access, and what is it being used for at all times. Some onus should also be put on employers as well as the education industry to make their employees and students aware of the potential threats unsecure networks or vulnerable devices can pose to their privacy and data, as well as the online safety of their family.”

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