ARNES has been raising awareness about cyber security and all other aspects of safe use of new technologies since its constitution. In 1995, ARNES’s activity in these areas increased considerably for the first time and started focusing primarily on cyber security with the establishment of Slovenian Computer Emergency Response Team SI-CERT.
The spread of the Internet in Slovenia, its use and abuse
The same year, ARNES started working intensely on connecting schools and providing Internet access to both students and teachers. Users were able to access the Internet from any location, which of course meant that most of them accessed the network from home. While spreading the new technology and knowledge, this also led to new challenges: young users in particular turned out to be resourceful and innovative when using – and, to an even larger degree, abusing – the new technology.
In 1999, ARNES became involved in international co-operation in the field of preventive activities promoting safe Internet use for the first time, primarily addressing young people, their parents and teachers. These activities expanded in 2005, when the Safe.si project, which is a part of the European INSAFE association, started. ARNES is its founding member and one of the participants.
ARNES systematically spreads its knowledge on education through various channels and thus works for a wide variety of audiences. It uses both “traditional” and modern forms of communication. It organizes lectures, workshops, seminars and papers, video content and newsletters.
Safe on the Internet – it all depends on me
Since 2011, SI-CERT has been coordinating the national program on information security called Safe on the Internet. The program was designed to educate the general Slovenian public on the basic principles of information security and secure internet use as well as to provide information on current online risks. We provide Slovenian web users with the answers to the following questions:
- How do I recognize and protect myself from online fraud?
- How do I use e-banking services and shop online securely?
- How do I secure my online identity and my user accounts?
Awareness raising is based on preventive action – alerting and educating online users on how to identify various online risks and protect their online identity and devices (PC, smartphone, tablet) in a timely manner. The awareness program is placed among other SI-CERT activities, thereby ensuring that Internet users are always familiar with current risks, as the program relies on the incidents that SI-CERT is currently addressing.
From preventative tips to professional assistance
The Safe on the Internet program provides comprehensive support for web users ranging from preventative tips to professional assistance when problems already occur. The original foundation of our operation is the website www.varninainternetu.si, which is a key source of information in the field of cybersecurity and the first address when web users need advice or help. Our website regularly informs on discovered frauds and other detected threats, including in the form of video blogs, and we describe the most common online threats and analyze specific fraud cases. Another channel we use for alerting users to detected threats is the Safety news electronic newsletter, which is sent twice a month.
Much attention is paid to rapid communication on social networks, which have become the most effective channel for reaching the general public. The Safe on the Internet Facebook page boasts more than 36,000 followers, and in 2018 alone, our videos that humorously depict the background of various online frauds have been viewed more than 520,000 times.
Reporting a network incident
The second foundation is professional help, since we allow web users to report a network incident (hacking, fraud, identity theft, etc.). Experts from the SI-CERT National Center offer help and advise, and our knowledge is available to all web users free of charge.
Participation in the European Cyber Security Month initiative
The third major activity is participation in the European Cyber Security Month initiative, which takes place annually in October. It is a pan-European campaign raising awareness of cybersecurity among citizens that seeks to change their views on cyber threats. As part of the Safe on the Internet program, we annually prepare an extensive, high-profile media campaign by focusing on the selected issues. This year, we will address the basic principles of cyber hygiene and, through short video teasers on social networks and enhanced PR activities, remind web users of the need to back up data and identify the typical signs of financial fraud.
Massive open online course with 1,000 participants
Since 2014, ARNES had held a massive open online course (MOOC) twice a year. It is aimed at raising awareness among a wide range of people, and is especially targeted at teachers and students of pedagogical faculties who can share their knowledge with the youth. Typically, between 600 and 1,000 people take part in each individual course. So far, approximately 7,800 teachers, students and other participants have taken the course.
The online course features an extremely wide array of topics, ranging from basic protection of various devices, information on viruses, online scams and passwords, to content that helps the user understand the basics of how the Internet and online media work. Big emphasis is put on understanding the importance of privacy and approaches that contribute to it. The course also discusses topics which are extremely pressing for young people: cyberbullying, the overuse of devices and addictions.
The online course lasts for three weeks. At the end, participants can join a practical ‘off-line’ workshop to learn how to respond to challenges occurring in Slovenian schools appropriately – whether it be cyberbullying or electronic report cards getting hacked.
A tool for teachers
For the first time this year, ARNES has put together a massive open online course (MOOC) on the same topics for children between the ages of 9 and 16. The course is designed as a tool for teachers, which can be used in a variety of ways. Most choose to use it in class or as part of after-school activities.
To spread the knowledge on these topics among teachers, ARNES’s associates also regularly write columns for specialized publications, which reach nearly all Slovenian schools.
The badge for the MOOC for children: I understand! Smart user