Details of Data Privacy Day and Internet Safety Day: Internet Scambusters #476
Two special events in late January and early February highlight growing concerns about data privacy and online safety.
Behind Data Privacy Day is the revelation that one in every 20 mobile devices is expected to become infected with malware in the coming couple of years, while organizers of Safer Internet Day reveal that one in every 10 students has been stalked online.
In this issue, we tell you more about those two events, with extra insights and links to help you get involved.
Campaigns Focus on Data Privacy, Internet Security Concerns
This week we'll give you double reason to give extra thought to data privacy and security-minded use of the Internet.
January 28 is Data Privacy Day and February 7 is Safer Internet Day -- two important events that remind us of our responsibility to take special precautions with our online activity and personal information.
Data Privacy Day
Towards the end of 2011, the National Cyber Security Alliance, which organizes Data Privacy Day, published its annual survey of home-based Internet use, focusing on digital shopping.
In particular, the study, supported by Internet security company McAfee, showed just how much the use of smartphones is changing our shopping habits.
Three-quarters of the people polled confirmed they were now using their mobile devices more than a year previously.
The survey reveals:
* Half of all Americans are now using the Internet to buy or research products using smartphones, and more than one in 10 use them for online auction bidding.
* But 72% of smartphone users have no security software installed on them. Meanwhile, the number of different types of malware leapt 46%, with one in every 20 mobile devices expected to become infected during 2012 and 2013.
* On the positive side -- if you can call it that -- 42% of users halted a proposed online transaction because of security worries, mainly because they were unsure if the site they were visiting was safe.
"These findings illustrate our ever-increasing reliance on mobile technology in our daily lives. Technology has enabled us to enhance our shopping experience with the ability to research pricing, reviews, and product purchase options with ease not previously possible," said Michael Kaiser, Executive Director of the NCSA. "With this new convenience comes a new responsibility to practice vigilance... People must be aware of the risks they face when making purchases online and ensure that they are using sound judgment to protect their personal information and prevent the loss of data."
The NCSA is a not-for-profit watchdog organization supported by some of the biggest names in computing, like Microsoft and Intel. Its main website is StaySafeOnline.org and is well worth a visit.
For Data Privacy Day 2012, the aim is to highlight awareness of how our personal information is collected, stored and used. In particular, NCSA wants parents and educators to play an active role in helping young people understand the risks of giving away information about themselves on social media sites and through online video services like YouTube.
Linking with another non-profit organization, Common Sense Media, they provide school curriculum material for digital literacy programs.
"The technological savvy of students often outstrips that of their teachers," says NCSA, "but all students can benefit from education about the implications and consequences of texting, blogging, posting to each other's walls, behavioral advertising, social networking, Internet safety, and good privacy practices generally."
The organization also calls on businesses to play their part by ensuring they're following the rules governing consumer privacy.
Safer Internet Day
Looking at things from a slightly different angle, a global network of Internet awareness centers called Insafe has adopted the theme "Connecting generations and educating each other" for Safer Internet Day (SID) 2012.
The thinking this time is that since young people know so much more about the Internet, they could teach their elders a thing or two.
At the same time, older folk have a heck of a lot more real-world experience that could really benefit their children and grandchildren when it comes to spotting dubious behavior.
"Whether you are 5, 40 or 75 years old, whether you use the Internet once a month or several times a day -- each person has something different to bring to the table that can help shape our online experiences and our understanding of online competences and safety," says Insafe.
Although originally a Europe-wide initiative, the campaign how has a global reach and offers important advice for all of us.
Activities in the US are being coordinated by a commercial publisher, i-SAFE Inc., who will be providing printed lesson material for tens of thousands of students at 4,500 schools across the country, as well as in classrooms in 33 other countries.
An i-SAFE survey in southern California, held as part of last year's Safer Internet Day, found that:
* One in ten students has been "stalked" or harassed by someone else online.
* Even more -- 12% -- have gone to personally meet someone they encountered on the Internet.
* A third of 5th through 12th graders agreed their parents would disapprove of some of their Internet activities.
That adds up to a whole heap of things to worry about.
But, says Insafe, we can all do something about that by recognizing opportunities to provide guidance on Internet usage to each other and by encouraging everyone to view it as a family affair.
It's when we venture into online activities that we don't know or understand that we most risk heading into trouble.
"Today our offline and online worlds are strongly connected, from families communicating via webcam with relatives and friends abroad to children doing their homework online," says Insafe.
"The online world is a unique arena where people of all ages can learn together and from each other, especially regarding online safety.
"Tech savvy youngsters can teach their elders how to use new technologies, while grandparents can draw on their life experiences to advise younger generations on how to stay safe online, as they discover the digital world together."
These two events serve an important purpose in highlighting the nature of Internet security problems and helping us work together to tackle them.
But, of course, Internet security is a year-round activity. When it comes to data privacy and safer surfing, you can never let your guard down.
That's all we have for today, but we'll be back next week with another issue. See you then!