On the occasion of Safer Internet Day on 6 February, Corey Nachreiner, Chief Technology Officer at WatchGuard Technologies, highlights the importance of fostering a safer internet environment for children and young people. Asserting the role of this annual event in raising awareness around online risks, he brings attention to AI technology risks; company practices improving children's online safety and important cybersecurity tips.
"While every day is a good day to take stock of what you’re doing to protect yourself, your family and your organisation online, Safer Internet Day is a great opportunity to reflect on and discuss what more we can and should be doing," says Nachreiner.
He further highlights potential privacy issues with AI tools and applications. Platforms like Facebook, TikTok, and ChatGPT utilise users' private data, sometimes without explicit consent, raising concerns over online safety. Nachreiner warns, "if a service you use is 'free,' it's likely that you and your data are the product."
Emphasising the importance of human factors in online safety, Nachreiner notes that security and privacy breaches often result from "mundane mistakes or simple human error." Hence, cybersecurity practices should equally focus on fostering vigilance and caution among people while using the web.
Nachreiner also gives useful tips for children, parents and educators to enhance online safety - take your privacy online seriously, never post things you don’t want others to see, know that it’s easy to pretend to be someone else online, protect your online identity and teach general online safety tips to children.
"We often go online to socialise and share things about ourselves, so it’s natural to want to share. However, threat actors can exploit small, seemingly basic things about you... When engaging online, you should always establish verified trust with a stranger before sharing private information," he explains.
People, including children and young adults, should be careful when posting digital content, understand the ease of identity manipulation online, and protect their online identities by employing strong passwords and authentication measures. Nachreiner adds that adults should impart online hygiene tips, such as asking for parental permission before going online, restricting online activities to safe platforms and avoiding sharing personal information.
Nachreiner reinforces the importance of staying alert and cautious. He advises, "if the details don’t add up or anything just feels off, it's better to stay on the safe side...By staying alert and exercising an abundance of caution, you can better protect yourself and the youngest generation of web users from falling victim to sneaky attacks and ensure a safer internet experience."