Taskforce to explore security risks for internet users

7 Jun 2012

A public-private taskforce, led by the Irish Government, has launched its latest makeITsecure campaign. The aim is to help Irish internet users become more aware about potential security risks, especially when banking online, and when using their smartphones to pay bills and share personal information.

The fourth makeITsecure campaign is being run by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, while Symantec, the Irish Banking Federation, Microsoft, BT Ireland, Three, O2, Vodafone, Eircom and ComReg are also involved in this year’s taskforce.

The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, TD, launched the campaign on the back of new areas of risk that are emerging for internet users.

The aim of this year’s campaign is to specifically address and educate people about daily security issues they face when they do online banking, send emails, engage in online chat rooms and share information on social networking sites.

Research conducted by the private-sector taskforce members is one of the key reasons that the group has come together to run the latest makeITsecure campaign.

For instance, Symantec, in its latest security threat report in May, revealed there were 5.5bn malicious attacks in 2011, an increase of 81pc over 2010 figures.

The same report also showed that around one in every 298 emails are phishing attacks, and around one in 239 emails are affected by viruses.

The report also found that cyber-criminals were stepping up mobile attacks, with mobile vulnerabilities increasing by 93pc in 2011. According to Symantec, last year was the first time mobile malware presented a real threat to businesses and consumers.

Speaking at the launch, Rabbitte said such statistics shouldn’t deter people from using computers or surfing the net, but that people also need necessary knowledge and information to protect themselves when they are online.

“The aim of the makeITsecure campaign is to ensure that all ICT users are encouraged to continue to use the technology, but to ensure that when doing so they are taking the precautions to protect themselves,” he said.

Another key focus of this year’s campaign will be to highlight the safe use of mobile devices, especially when people are paying bills or sharing information on social networking sites.

Research from the Irish Banking Federation and the Irish Payment Services Organisation shows there are now 3m online banking accounts in Ireland.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic