The evolution of online safety | From Cyber safety to Digital Challenge

Increased access to faster, more mobile internet connections means that New Zealanders are spending more and more time online. As a result, they are exposed to constantly evolving challenges that include online bullying and harassment, employment and investment scams, cyber attacks and privacy issues.

Cyber safety issues emerged with the rapid penetration of the internet and mobile phones in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The understanding of these issues has evolved since then as developments in digital technology have enabled new, or evolved existing, risks to New Zealanders going online. Now cyber safety is thought of as being one of three broad areas of ‘Digital Challenge’ that also include cyber crime and cyber security (the ‘3Cs’).

  • Cyber safety: Involves conduct or behavioural concerns. Examples include cyberbullying, smear campaigns, accessing inappropriate content, being taken in by a scam, creating spoof websites or sexting.
  • Cyber crime: Involves activity that infringe criminal and civil law. Examples include, sexual offending, accessing objectionable content or online fraud.
  • Cyber security: Involves unauthorised access or attacks on a computer system. Examples include hacking into someone’s social media service account, launching a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack or loading malware onto a laptop.

The Digital Challenge Model provides a basis for understanding the broad range of online safety, security and crime challenges confronting New Zealanders. It also reflects the broad expertise and deep knowledge of the many organisations that work on behalf of New Zealand’s internet users as highlighted by NetSafe’s extensive partner network.