Education the first step to fighting cybercrime, Miriam Dalli tells European Parliament

The Labour MEP said investing in security infrastructure was important, but warned governments not to underestimate the importance of educating citizens

Labour MEP Miriam Dalli
Labour MEP Miriam Dalli

Labour MEP Miriam Dalli has emphasised the need for governments to invest in educating their citizens on how to spot online threats and avoid negative consequences when using online technologies.

Speaking at the European Parliament during a topical debate on international co-operation in the fight against cybercrime, Dalli said it wasn’t enough for governments to invest in “unhackable” systems.

“My message today to the European Commission and European Governments: it's not enough to arm yourself with "unhackable" infrastructure. Educate citizens to think, then click - not the other way around,” she said.

Digital technologies, said Dalli, were becoming a more integral part of citizens’ daily lives, and were the backbone of European economies.

 “It is crucial that the European Union continues to equip itself with strong cybersecurity legislation whilst investing in further research on how to protect citizens online.”

She added that cybercrime was a borderless problem involving crimes being committed through online communications networks and information systems.

Like many other European counties, Malta has seen an increase in the number of crimes committed through online means. Many users, especially from older generations, are particularly vulnerable to scams and fraudster advances.

The need to educate, she said, was even more urgent when once considered that a number of public services across the EU were being made available online.

Dalli argued that this was also an opportunity to train young ICT experts who can combat this phenomenon and such crimes of the future. 

A recent Eurobarometer survey found respondents to be more concerned about online transactions, with the two most common concerns being the misuse of personal data and the security of online payments.

Figure provided to MaltaToday by the police’s cybercrime unit put the total number of online crimes investigated in 2016, at 877, with the three most common categories being fraud, forgery and misappropriation; insults, threats and private violence; and computer misuse.

Dalli urged users to protect their identity at all costs whilst making sure to use safe passwords that are not easily identifiable.

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