Discussion paper

Addressing the cyber safety challenge: from risk to resilience

14 Jul 2014

Addressing the cyber safety challenge: from risk to resilience describes the cyber safety issues emerging from a range of technology trends, how different populations are using technologies and the risks they face, and how we can effectively respond to each group’s unique cyber safety needs.

Written by the University of Western Sydney for Telstra Corporation Ltd, the report advocates for continuing to move cyber safety from a ‘risk and protection’ framework to one that focuses on building digital resilience, as well as fostering trust and confidence in the online environment. To do this we need to:

  1. Address the needs of populations often neglected by current policies and programs – including adults, seniors, parents, and small to medium enterprises
  2. Continue to build the digital literacy skills of all populations, because digital literacy strongly influences users’ ability to engage safely online – this is best achieved by a hands-on learning approach
  3. Keep risk in perspective – the risks and benefits of digital participation go hand in hand
  4. Broaden the focus from awareness-raising to long-term behaviour change.

As digital technologies become further integrated into the everyday lives of Australians, users are potentially exposed to greater risks. However, the risks and benefits of digital participation go hand in hand. The challenge, therefore, is to support users to minimise the risks without limiting their digital participation and their capacity to derive the full benefits of connectivity. If Australians are to benefit as either consumers or providers of online services and products in the e-commerce environment, consumer safety and trust need to be improved.

Cyber safety needs to be considered against a transforming backdrop of technology trends, products and practices. While the rise of social media has tended to dominate recent debate and developments in cyber safety, particularly in relation to young people, a range of other trends is also shaping how users engage online, the risks they potentially face in the new media landscape, and the strategies used to address them. These trends include the rise of user generated content and content sharing platforms; the uptake of mobile technologies and, in particular, the adoption of smartphones; cloud computing; platform integration and single sign-on mechanisms; and the rise of GPS and location based services.

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