Opinion: Digital Britain needs secure surfing

Internet security is a constantly changing mission and one that requires you to stay on top of the game, minimising the threats and risk of security breaches, writes Tom Millar.

Internet security is a constantly changing mission and one that requires you to stay on top of the game, minimising the threats and risk of security breaches, writes Tom Millar.

As I think about what a 'Digital Britain' means to me and my company, I can't help wondering what 'inconceivable' developments the 'digital generation' will encounter in the future.

That said, there is raft of new developments happening right now, in particular Web 2.0 applications such as social media. These are bringing a whole host of new business challenges that are keeping governments and companies (and individuals) busy defining how they can maximise ROI from these new channels. You only have to look at how Barack Obama used social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, along with his internet site, to transform his presidential campaign to see what can be achieved. The way in which we communicate with each other will never be the same again.

The UK telecoms, broadcast and technology infrastructure behind this seismic shift must transfer over from analogue to digital, rapidly, if we are to keep up with our international counterparts.

The Digital Britain report obliges telecoms companies to supply high speed broadband nationwide by 2012. A huge investment is required for this ambitious plan, and three years is a relatively short deadline, so what benefits will it bring?

As most households will need to upgrade their home PCs, phones and TVs, those on the supply side are expected to benefit to the tune of £28bn, say market analysts.

Digital Britain also aims to promote and protect our most precious commodity, creative talent and intellectual property. This requires co-operation from a variety of organisations, from ISPs and broadband companies to user firms and end-users.

In addition, web content is changing and 'digital' expectations are ever more demanding. Increasingly, users will have control over the 'service' they receive. They will demand more rich media, such as podcasts and videos, so the download speeds must develop to support them.

Making Digital Britain accessible to everyone is a big challenge. But connection to wired and wireless networks, brings with it the equally as important issue of security.

Connecting people in this new environment opens up new opportunities for the pirates out there. How is the government going to police and punish illegal downloaders?

Make no mistake about this: we are all threatened by pirates. Safeguarding your assets, namely personal information and intellectual property, is paramount and a huge challenge faced by everyone online the world over. Internet security in particular is a constantly changing mission and one that requires you to stay on top of the game. Minimising the threats and risk of security breaches is the key.

The average surfer or online shopper has little awareness of how much malware is out there. Spyware, viruses, worms, botnets, Trojans, keystroke loggers - the list goes on. And most individuals are blissfully unaware until it is too late.

We cannot all be experts in security, so I would encourage everyone to seek advice. Ironically, there is plenty online.

Companies should aim to partner with a specialist company with whom they can build a long term relationship. For individuals, the government is promoting the Get Safe Online security awareness programme. This aims to encourage people to take ownership of their own online security.

Paradoxically, children generally have much more 'digital savvy' than their parents. This is a good thing, as they are the generation that will develop the next mind-blowing revolution. Hopefully, that revolution will include a safer internet.

Tom Millar is managing director at ITC Global Security

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