By Graham Day

Over 40 pedestrians were killed on roads in Ireland last year! Whilst this number is still not acceptable it is minor when we think there are over 5 million people in Ireland.

Imagine how many might have been killed if people didn’t know the safe cross code, if schools didn’t reinforce this with organised trips, if the Rules of the Road didn’t exist and if cars didn’t have headlights or horns? Potentially the number of fatalities would be unimaginable, but it could be likened to the number of people who are subject to cyber security breaches or whose information is compromised each day. The number of people who are subject to security breaches or whose information is compromised might be directly proportionate to the application of controls society imposes on the internet.

We apply a holistic approach to the roads, but there is no comparable approach to the internet highway, which is tantamount to shameful when we let the internet highway into our homes, it has even greater potential as a threat than the roads. At least with the roads we have the sanctity of the home as a safe haven, which doesn’t exist in relation to the internet highway.

In contrast if society had applied the holistic approach to cyber security as they do to roads then the number of people whose information is compromised each day or who are subject to security breaches might be comparable to the number of pedestrians killed on the roads, which whilst still over 40 more than it should be it is a significantly more tolerable number.

So how does the holistic approach applied to roads appear in relation to the internet. For starters in the home parents will apply that first degree of oversight by teaching a measured approach to internet usage and will guide their children to safer internet use and healthy digital habits, such as screen time, digital detox and device management.

The school’s role in this is absolutely to reinforce the parent’s teaching, so for example keeping smartphones out of the classroom and providing managed networks with whitelisting, as well as ensuring the rhetoric reflects the parent’s guidance and also actual formal guidance is given in class as part of the curriculum.

As for legislation, well the legislation would very much be oriented to risk, for example devices should be developed which enable the users to easily navigate to security controls to reduce or manage their personal risk, and online applications would be developed in the same way.

The development of applications is akin to the use of headlights and horns on cars, there must be security controls and there invariably are, but the interfaces and configuration must be developed to support the person to use the application safely. Manufacturers of technology and developers of apps build the controls, they just need to make these aspects easier to navigate.

Fundamentally user’s own their personal security and must own that responsibility, there is a significant degree of apathy or denial across society which must be addressed.  If all users accepted this responsibility and were appropriately empowered then a foundation of societal awareness would exist, which could then be built upon, as well as ensuring future generations would be appropriately educated and empowered to exist and succeed as the future digital generations of society.