THE cyber landscape is constantly changing and we are becoming more reliant on access to digital platforms and devices, the need for secure access to the internet is more important than ever.

In 2019, criminals obtained over £2.7billion from cyber-crimes reported to the FBI alone, with almost half a million individuals and businesses in the USA reporting they had been the victim of a cyber-crime. In the UK, the proportion of businesses affected by a cyber-attack rose to 55%, an increase of 15% on the previous year.

Cyber-crime can be split into two broad categories. Cyber-dependent crime includes using a computer or a network to gain access, or “hack” into someone else’s network.

Hackers are increasingly able to exploit smart technology, which has intertwined in our daily lives. As we connect more and more of our appliances to the web, we provide potential opportunities for criminals to access not only our financial information, but also our homes through appliances such as cameras and alarms.

The other type is cyber-enabled crimes, which includes fraud and does not always require online access. For example, fraudulent emails or phone calls can rob people of their bank details and gain access to their accounts, and seemingly legitimate websites are set up to trick people into sharing their personal details.

More and more young people have access to the internet, many have access to smartphones, tablets or video game consoles from a young age. This is great for their understanding of how to navigate an increasingly digital world, but of course it brings some risk.

The rise of social media and also the use of online gaming platforms, brings the potential for young people to come into contact with people who may wish to abuse, exploit or bully them.

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So, whether it’s the use of parental control software, regular discussions about their online activity or actively teaching them about cyber safety, protecting young people online is now as everyday an activity as teaching them to cross the road safely.

There are numerous ways that you can find out more about online safety, including the Scottish Government’s Cyber Resilience guidance: Get Safe Online, or the BBC Bitesize website.

Whether it’s business leaders, community groups or school children, understanding how to protect ourselves online and develop cyber resilience is a valuable life skill.

At Glasgow Science Centre we are committed to supporting engagement with science to allow everyone to make positive differences in their lives, their communities and to society as a whole. And this includes how to keep ourselves safe online.

Throughout this week we have been a host venue for Cyber Scotland Week, a Scottish Government initiative aimed at improving cyber resilience knowledge, behaviours and practice. Running until Sunday, Glasgow Science Centre has delivered a number of inspiring activities to a range of audiences.

Our dedicated Community Learning & Development team hosted two workshops for The Young Women’s Movement, a group working with women in the East End of Glasgow to support them to build resilience, skills and choices; and young people from The HIVE in Ayrshire, which prepares young people for life, learning and work.

The workshops were built around a fun interactive activity and challenged the young people to put themselves into the shoes of a hacker, as a way of learning how to keep them and their personal information safe and secure online.

We also hosted a “Meet the Expert” event, where 500 school pupils had the opportunity to meet with employers and the Cyber Scotland Week team to learn more about internet safety, passwords and the skills that could be beneficial for a career in cyber security.

They also had the opportunity to speak to Police Scotland about what it is like to work on the front line of cyber security.

In addition to this the STEM Futures team also gave 75 young people the chance to take part in a Cyber Escape Room, specially designed for Cyber Scotland Week.

Events are taking place across the country to showcase the innovation in Scotland’s cyber sector, while raising awareness of good cyber resilience practice and promoting careers in this rapidly growing industry.

The week has brought together influencers, experts and the next generation of talent to explore and learn about the potential rewards and challenges in this fast-changing threat landscape.

You don’t need to be a cyber expert to support the week – good cyber resilience is important for everyone. Find out what is happening in your area and access a range of cyber guidance via the Cyber Scotland Week site.

You can also get involved on social media using #CyberScotWeek2020.