My morning commute was made particularly exciting today by something I hate – a texting driver. As I negotiated Auckland’s ferocious rush hour traffic, it became increasingly obvious that the driver in front of me - bumbling along at 30km/h in a car with a prominent yellow P plate – was typing a lengthy reply to a friend or family member as they continually glanced up and down between the road ahead and the contents of their smartphone.
Texting whilst driving is without doubt one of the few things I can’t stand in our continuously connected world.
Ten years of motorbiking around London taught me that texting drivers are a road safety nightmare as they fail to observe fellow road users whilst updating their social status. The law, both here in New Zealand and in other countries around the world, has thankfully been updated to reflect this menace and has been matched by a range of road safety campaigns targeting texters. Even the mobile operators have tried to offer services that divert calls to voicemail to block the temptation to take a call whilst at the wheel.
It’s this combination of Engineering (voicemail services), Enforcement (fines and policing) and Education (shocking video campaigns) – the three E’s – that has shaped modern awareness programmes. When the three are combined, some good can often be seen to result.
How do you change behaviour?
This morning I read an interesting story in the UK media suggesting that iWatches and smartwatches may be the next range of devices to tempt us mere mortals into bad behaviour behind the wheel.
“An iWatch has the potential to be just as distracting as any other smartphone device – indeed more so if you have to take your hand off the wheel and your eyes off the road to interact with it.”
You can already hear car horns blaring when the motorist waiting for a green light at the front of a queue of traffic is too engaged with their mobile, reading the contents of their email before pulling into the work car park.
Just imagine what it will be like when we’re all wearing Dick Tracy style smart watches that are coupled to in-car entertainment set-ups rivalling the cockpit of a 747?
Stephen Turvil from motoring.co.uk makes an important point though when discussing this ‘threat’:
despite the wealth of technology at their fingertips the majority of motorists recognise it is their primary responsibility to look through the windscreen. Pressing buttons and staring at screens is secondary. To these people, smart watches and smartphones pose no threat. Okay so a device beeps and flashes. So what? Ignore it. Simply concentrate on staying safe. If a motorist lacks self control a device can be switched-off or locked in the boot. Drivers – once we exclude the actions of others and/or rotten luck – are as safe as they want to be.
Responsibility thus lies with the individual to take adequate steps to ensure their own safety and the safety of others sharing the road.
The same could be said of online safety and security – an individual’s response to digital challenge which eventually becomes the social norm could see many of the current issues affecting Kiwis resolved.
Returning to the motoring analogy, remember back to the days when nobody wore seat belts? A generation later and the three E’s have played their part in driving society’s adoption of the seat belt as a compulsory preventative measure to increase safety. Imagine then if internet users (and network owners and device manufacturers) were equally compelled to adopt similar simple and easy steps to protect computers against malware?
The Most Popular Time for Online Porn?
Mondays at NetSafe are always busy. Being a non-profit we don’t offer a 24/7 service and calls to our free helpline are diverted to voicemail over the weekend, usually resulting a large backlog by the time 8am Monday comes.
Over the last year, ransomware has always reared its ugly head on a Monday morning as many ‘recreational surfers’ browsing adult content sites find their unpatched computer is infected, locked up and/or the data encrypted after a quick visit to a decidedly dodgy website. That’s not to say, of course, that ransomware is delivered only by adult websites and putting in place security controls is key.
Downloading that video codec or browser plugin to watch the clip of your choice is always a bad idea and some adult websites can harbour nasty ‘droppers and downloaders’ (malware attack kits) just waiting to infect your computer using one of many potential security vulnerabilities.
Porn it would seem, according to statistics just released from one of America’s most popular adult video websites, is popular all year round, whatever the season.
Before giving in to that desire for 9 minutes and 53 seconds of carnal pleasure, checking your computer is secure and upgrading your browser to the latest version (never mind switching to private mode) could well pay dividends. And potentially cut the number of calls to NetSafe on a Monday too.