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The risks of digital inequality

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Grandpas or grandmas who fall for spam emails from Nigerian princes or seniors who blindly state their PIN code in an email. Is that your reality of digital inequality? Unfortunately, digital inequality is a broader problem than the above common examples. In this article, we take a closer look at this problem and look at solutions.

What is Digital Inequality?

Digital inequality is what happens when there is no digital inclusion. Within our society, inclusion is an important concept, where everyone, regardless of their background or differences, is included and accepted in society. Yet there are population groups – also here in the Netherlands – that cannot keep up with the current pace of digitization. As a result of which, a lot goes wrong. More and more things can only be arranged online.

Research from the University of Twente has shown that a lack of good help with going online, the right equipment, existing digital skills and insufficient suitable ways to access the internet, are reasons why the digital divide is quite large.

The consequences of digital inequality are significant. Vulnerable groups, such as the low-skilled and people with a lower income, are more likely to fall victim to online fraud and encounter misinformation and negative texts more quickly. In addition, they miss out on the benefits of being digitally connected: for example, the internet offers the opportunity to make contact with friends and family, and it is possible to work remotely.

Digital inequality related to digital skills

Digital inequality is related to digital skills. Good digital skills are the key to digital inclusion. Training in the field of digital skills is therefore certainly useful: they help disadvantaged groups to become safely acquainted with the online world. Training can focus on topics such as recognizing cybercrime, creating online accounts or theoretical explanations.

The socio-economic divide

Several factors play a role in the emergence of digital inequality. For example, not every household has access to the internet. This can be a result of culture or religion, but also a lower income. Children in particular often miss the boat when it comes to learning digital skills. Research shows that four factors are important for digital inclusion:

  • Positive drivers: Having a positive opinion about internet use plays an important role in reducing inequality.
  • Good material: Having a good internet connection and a good device (laptop, computer or mobile) plays a major role.
  • Digital skills: Existing digital skills indicate to what extent someone can save themselves online. When someone is digitally skilled, the chance of digital inequality is much smaller.
  • Sufficient use: the extent to which the Internet is used and in what way is also an important indication of possible inequality.

These four factors can be worked on to reduce the existing socio-economic gap. And that is badly needed because digital inequality only increases this gap: it is a vicious circle that continues to widen the gap between people and technology and between people and society.

Solutions for digital inequality

To combat digital inequality, education and training are super important. We have to take into account how certain groups think about the internet and respond to it. A good approach is key! During this training, we can discuss both theory and practice. For example, we can talk about what the internet means for society and practice the basics of digital skills step by step. If we emphasize the various benefits of digital technologies for each group of users – such as finding a job more easily or quickly staying in touch with distant relatives – then we can improve the image of the Internet. This is important to motivate users to become more actively involved with digital technology.

Improving access to the internet is also important in this respect. Think of placing computers with internet access in community centres and libraries and lending laptops to young people from poorer households.

It is also important that attention is paid throughout the Netherlands to how the digital world plays a role, including in healthcare. The insight that digitizing everything is not easier and more convenient for everyone can prevent a lot of inequality in advance. There is still a lot to be gained by developing broad programs aimed at improving digital inclusion.

Guardey recognizes the challenge ahead. The gap between people and technology must be reduced to allow everyone in society to participate in the online world. We are happy to contribute to solving this challenge through easy and affordable cybersecurity software. It is time to balance digital society and physical society. Bring balance back to your company and start now with a free 14-day Guardey trial.

Frequently Asked Questions

I already have a firewall, do I still need Guardey?

Relying solely on a firewall for cyber security leaves your organization vulnerable to evolving and sophisticated threats. Cyber attacks target multiple vectors, including vulnerabilities in software, employee endpoints and web applications. Guardey works in conjunction with the firewall.

Firewalls keep out up to 80% of online risks. With Guardey, it is transparent which online risks did make it through the firewall. In addition, human errors are still too often made, so also train employees to work responsibly online.

I already have a VPN, do I still need Guardey?

It’s good that you are already using a VPN. This makes you invisible to malicious people, but at the end of the day, employees can still be vulnerable by bringing in the wrong orders or wrong websites.

Guardey is more than a business VPN. Guardey also provides monitoring in the VPN tunnel. This detects online risks and allows a quick response.

We are too busy for weekly gamification. Why should I play the gamification?

These days we are all busy, we recognise that 😉 All the more important is employee awareness. Make sure employees don’t accidentally make mistakes due to pressure. After all, that only creates extra work.

That’s why our challenges are only a maximum of 5 minutes and can be done quickly in between. A new challenge becomes available every week. As an organisation, do you want to play these challenges every week, every two weeks or every month? Of course, that’s no problem either.

Can I also play just the gamification?

Short answer: yes! It is possible to play just the gamification.

Have you already taken sufficient cyber security measures for your employees in the office and outside the office? But can awareness still be worked on? Then you can also play just the gamification. This can already be done very easily in just the browser. Check out our game only package here.

Is Guardey effective against phishing attempts?

Phishing is especially dangerous when you don’t know you’re dealing with phishing. That’s why our cyber awarness game is the first step against phishing. Make people aware of the dangers and make sure they have the right knowledge so they don’t click on anything.

Further Guardey plays a crucial role in detecting suspicious online activities. For instance, if a member of your organization interacts with a website known for hosting phishing content, Guardey will promptly alert you about the potential risk. By providing this proactive alert system, Guardey aids in preventing users within your organization from falling prey to phishing scams.

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Anouk ter Harmsel

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