Users are the weak link in online security, says European Commission young adviser (video)

20 Jun 2013

Anna Mazgal, European Commission young adviser for Poland and the Czech Republic

Anna Mazgal, Polish NGO professional and a member of the European Commission’s Young Advisors Group, took on the role of facilitator at the Digital Agenda Assembly’s workshop on building an open, safe and secure cyberspace. We caught up with her after the day’s proceedings in Dublin to find out what was discussed.

The cybersecurity workshop discussed the role of both users and policy-makers in keeping the web secure for EU citizens. During the all-day session there was a demonstration of how a mobile phone can easily be accessed by another using its Wi-Fi connection, highlighting the everyday risks of the mobile web that many are unaware of.

Mazgal explained that hacks like this are easy because systems such as Wi-Fi networks have been designed for convenience first, with security taking a back seat.

Technology moves so fast that even the experts can struggle to keep up, so you can imagine how hard it can be for the average user. While it’s important for policy-makers and product designers to ensure risks are made clear to all users, these users must also take responsibility for their security online.

“Users are sometimes the weakest link of the whole security process,” said Mazgal, who described how internet users easily develop a false sense of security, visiting unauthorised websites and regularly ignoring warnings.

“It’s not enough to demand from users to understand it – because, as I said, it all develops so quickly. We have to make sure that there are frameworks for them to actually get that information in a way that doesn’t consume much time,” she said.

Digital Agenda Assembly 2013 – Anna Mazgal, adviser, Poland and Czech Republic 

Mazgal will today present the workshop’s findings and recommendations at the Digital Agenda Assembly plenary session.

You can follow more of what was covered at yesterday’s cybersecurity workshop by searching for the hashtag #da13trustsec on Twitter. For more reports and videos from the Digital Agenda Assembly 2013, check out our dedicated website.

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic