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Education, practical steps key to maintaining cyber security

Caution as more teenagers trust social media, expose personal data

Manama: Viruses, worms and malware that threaten the cyber security of corporations and governments may be tackled through taking practical steps, a Qatar-based expert has said.

“They may at first appear to be large organisational problems, but there are practical steps individuals can take to protect themselves and their institutions in an age of growing cyber warfare,” Raj Reddy, Moza Bint Nasser University professor at Carnegie Mellon University, said.

“Among them are enabling automatic updates, using strong passwords and backing-up all critical information,” he said during a discussion on 'The Role of Cyber Security in Maintaining Public Security' in the Qatari capital Doha on Monday.

However, there is also a need for robust education – within government and businesses and importantly amongst individuals – to mitigate the threats that virtual security roadblocks cannot provide, Reddy said.

Organisers said in a statement emailed to Gulf News that “with increasing levels of computer viruses affecting not only citizens, but also governments and corporations in Qatar and the Middle East, the panel discussion came at an apt moment in time.”

"Many computers get attacked and abused by both individuals and organisations,” Ilker Baybars, Dean of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, said.

“We have made a lot of progress in the area of cyber security; however people are still not aware of how to use these systems safely,” he said in comments on the challenges facing society in attaining cyber security.

Carnegie Mellon said that it was at the forefront of the vital research and that it encouraged it.

“This research becomes ever more necessary, as more teenagers trust social media sites and expose their personal information online. Through education we can raise awareness so that a strong message is delivered about how to use technology safely,” Baybars said.