Ian Jenkins MA, Senior Change Consultant, CLN – previous information and risk consultant at Age UK. Spoke at the APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) Cyber Security, alongside Dr Emma Philpott MBE, founder of UK Security Forum, and Jon France at ISC(2), looking at how cyber security can help bridge the digital divide.
The ‘digital divide’ is the gap between people in society who do and do not have full access to digital technologies (including internet and computers). Concerns about the digital divide have been acute since COVID-19, as many less experienced internet users were forced to access services online, pay bills, attend medical appointments, order food, and stay in contact with friends and family. These less experienced users are highly vulnerable to cyber criminals.
- The divide is growing – by 2025 one in ten will be 65 plus
- Reluctance to join – 45% of 65 plus don’t feel comfortable going online*
- 38% feel ‘forgotten’ when digital first is the default, whilst 34% feel stressed when services need online actions such as booking a doctor’s appointment*
- Those already online, 41% said they did not know where to go for help and with 27% that are comfortable being online said they’d benefit from learning new skills*
- 54% mentioned security and scams are a deterrent to fully embracing online transactions*
- Management processes for the excluded are expensive to implement/sustain – due to an ‘opportunity cost’ for investing in getting more online**
- The third sector is ‘lagging’ behind information protection best practice**
- Need to remember the truly ‘digitally excluded’, (poverty prevents joining).
*Independent market research – ‘One Poll’ survey of 1,987 over 65s 10-12 Aug 22
**Recent Third Sector and NCSC survey of over 120 charities
Ian highlighted three main challenges:
- To get those offline, on and upskill.
- Enhance private sector support.
- Address third sector gap.
To overcome these three challenges, Ian suggested:
- UK digital suppliers to provide simple, pocket guides to staying safe online and offer key help resources web addresses at point of sale.
- Online sources of help/citizen transaction sites be made readily available through browsers/apps.
- Capitalise on digital providers corporate social responsibility budgets/duty of care to underpin participation.
- Balance of risk – better publicise online benefits (financial and practical) and show actual instead of perceived risk, i.e., scale/value/benefit of successful transactions vs fraud.
- ‘Opportunity cost’ – how much might be saved from reduction in expensive exceptions management processes to off-set any spend on bridging the divide (however this needs further study to confirm potential savings).
- Considering regulating the 3rd sector – ‘push it towards best practice’ – contextual risk reduction.
- Any approach should be scalable and strategic if it is to make a difference.