05 February 2019

Karen Renaud: No such thing as online privacy

Karen Renaud: No such thing as online privacy

Professor Karen Renaud

This is an opinion piece for Safer Internet Day by Professor Karen Renaud, Professor of Cyber Security at Abertay University

Those born in the first half of the 20th century lived in a simpler world than we do.  They operated in two distinct zones: public and private. They knew that there were potential dangers to both their personal security and privacy in the public zone, and they took precautions accordingly. When they entered their private zone, with the doors barred, they could be pretty sure that their privacy was assured, and that they could use physical measures to ensure that they and their belongs were secure. In essence, the dangers were visible, as were the countermeasures. 

The Internet era has catapulted into a new world, which is as fundamentally different from that of our grandparents as it could be.  It’s a whole new ball game. The distinction between public and private zones is blurred and the threats are different from the ones we and our parents and grandparents were accustomed to dealing with. 

Don’t worry though – it’s just a matter of changing our way of looking at security and privacy: donning a modern pair of spectacles, as it were. In the first place, we have to abandon any idea that the threats are visible, so we cannot rely on the old traditional measures to protect ourselves.  In the second place, we should embrace this new era and realise that we can indeed cope: this is not the time for head-in-the-sand tactics. The Internet is an essential part of our world – we just need to figure out how best to manage the risks. 

Three quick tips for protecting yourself in the new world:

The UK government issues very helpful and trustworthy advice. If you’re worried about anything cyber related, you will probably find what you need  here: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/.

To find out about studying Ethical Hacking at Abertay visit: https://www.abertay.ac.uk/course-search/undergraduate/ethical-hacking/


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