A new report by McAfee reveals that only a third of Australians (32 per cent) feel safe and secure in an increasingly connected future.

Released by McAfee, part of Intel Security, the report, Safeguarding the Future of Digital Australia in 2025 also indicates that nearly half of Australians (49 per cent) feel a general level of comfort about the rate of technological change. The use of human enhancement technologies that monitor health and improve natural biological capabilities was also investigated, with 39 per cent of Australians indicating they would be comfortable with devices transmitting personal information directly to health providers.

Launched at the start of Stay Smart Online Week, the report was compiled by futurist Ross Dawson on behalf of Intel Security, to provide a forward-looking view into the technology trends and what can be expected over the next decade. The report also includes a Newspoll survey on Australian attitudes about the role technology plays in their lives, as well as contributions from technology, security, privacy and parenting experts.

Federal Minister for Communications, Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP said Intel Security’s report makes a major contribution to the general understanding of how to safeguard Australians online and into the future.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, The Hon. Paul Fletcher MP, launched Intel Security’s Safeguarding the Future of Digital Australia in 2025 report in Canberra, saying that the report made a valuable contribution to the overall understanding of how government, industry and the community can be prepared for their digital future.

Keith Buckley, Managing Director for McAfee Australia and New Zealand, part of Intel Security, believes the report has delivered rich insight into what digital lives might look like in 2025. He believes a better understanding how human interaction with technology over the next decade in every sphere of life can help prepare everyone for both the benefits and risks that closer connectivity will bring.

Sean Duca, Chief Technology Officer for McAfee Asia Pacific observes that security cannot be an afterthought, given the rapid changes and advancement in technology that collects and shares personal information. Security becomes an even more imperative factor when the world is moving towards implanting technologies in human bodies for enhanced function, and to maintain health.

Online identities

According to the report, unbounded online socialisation will shape young identities as digital connectivity and technology implants may become the norm. However, Australians are not yet comfortable about this prospect, with two thirds (68 per cent) indicating that they would be concerned if young people’s sense of identity were defined by their online persona and interactions.

Australians are also uncomfortable that their reputations and personal opportunities will be shaped by their participation in social media. More than half (54 per cent) said it would be unfair for financial credit ratings or job opportunities to be based on their online reputation.

Michelle Dennedy, Chief Privacy Officer for McAfee comments that there will be increased ability to collect information on people 10 years from now, but there are concerns about a lack of privacy and maintaining a sense of self that is separate from one’s online identities. Controls must therefore be included in one’s digital persona that would allow each person to define and decide their level of participation and set acceptable boundaries that will help shape their online person and reputation.

Rate of change and quality of life

Australians are concerned about the impact technological advances are having on quality of life, with only a third (33 per cent) saying technology is making life simpler rather than more complicated, and 44 per cent believing that robotics and intelligent technology in the home would make their quality of life worse. Fifty per cent are comfortable with the current pace of technological change.

Preparing future generations

Nearly half of Australians would be concerned about children being educated at their own pace via online tools. A significant portion of those surveyed (27 per cent) however think it would be a good for children, and this positive sentiment is higher among those with children (33 per cent) than those without (24 per cent).

Keith Buckley says keeping the next generations and future leaders engaged and safe in a highly digital world needs to be a community effort. McAfee works along with government, police, educators such as Life Education Australia, as well as parents, to teach kids to be safe and respectful digital citizens.