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Statement by the Director of OCSIA - Joanne Roberts

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Digital technology has come to underpin the global economy and our way of life. The advances made over recent decades have brought real benefits that have revolutionised our way of life, offering unparalleled connectivity, increased efficiency and convenience.

During COVID - we can really see the benefits of this technology when trying to keep in touch with our loved ones, for online shopping (which many of us will currently be doing) and for a number of us, for working from home.

Even outside of COVID - Many aspects of life that we now do without a thought are dependent upon a digital technology: from checking our bank account balance, to paying an invoice or sharing an image on social media.  However, this dependence on technology makes us a tempting target for both criminals and those wishing to undermine our way of life – and these inherent threats require us to be vigilant.

So to give you an example – we will go back to COVID. Reports show that cyber criminals have been exploiting COVID from early February – this is before the virus began to have a major impact on our daily lives.

Phishing emails relating to COVID increased by 400% from the beginning to end of March. For anyone who is unsure - Phishing is a type of online scam where you are sent an email that appears to be from a trustworthy company or individual asking you to provide sensitive information or click on links (so that they can steal your information or install a virus onto your device).

Some of the themes that we are seeing on these COVID phishing emails are impersonation of health organisations and governments with updates on COVID-19, new recommendations or guidelines, information on cures, tests, and face masks.

So for emails - check the sender of the email, is the company name correct, are you expecting it, is it too good to be true. Think before you click.

As well as emails there can also be malicious text messaging and calls which also have the same intention as the phishing email.

Whether through the actions of malicious individuals, organisations or even nation-states, the digital landscape is now a key battleground in the fight against both petty and organised crime. I would like to make it clear that the Isle of Man remains the safest jurisdiction in the British Isles. This sense of safety and security is sometimes taken for granted and yet it is the foundation for our society.

But Isle of Man is not immune to these threats and we can’t ignore them.  As a consequence, cyber security has never been so important in safeguarding our way of life and our prosperity.

Demonstrating the Isle of Man Government’s commitment to protecting the Island against these threats, the Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance (OCSIA) was established by Council of Ministers in October 2017 to develop the Island's cyber resilience. OCSIA has a skilled team who are dedicated to this objective.

OCSIA established the National Cyber Security Strategy published in May 2018. This strategy is based around key principles which aim to keep our Island AWARE, SECURE and RESILIENT.

There can be no excuses for failing to take cyber-security seriously. Across the world, we have seen businesses suffer reputational damage and commercial loss when their customers’ personal data has been stolen by hackers. We have all heard stories from individuals who have had a heavy price to pay for unknowingly divulging passwords, or personal details to cyber criminals.

When we think of cyber security we immediately think of technology and it being quite complex. (Phrases such as …I won’t understand it and cyber security is a technology problem and solution are often said). In the background – there is lots of tech, but for me, cyber security is about people and education. There are reports that show that 80% of cyber-attacks could be prevented through better education and AWARENESS by users. That’s why over the past 12 months OCSIA has been running a campaign to engage Island residents on simple steps that can be taken to protect themselves: advice on passwords – 3 random but memorable words, using our# to be more random, advice on updating devices and software, online shopping advice and security settings on social media accounts to name of few of the topics which have been covered.

So education is a key component in protecting ourselves from some of those threats and OCSIA will continue with the AWARENESS campaign and ask everyone to really think about and take action on those simple steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, your community and your businesses in this digital era.

In a digital world it will only be through communication, conversations and cooperation that we all wor