Photo: Sanket Mishra

Science and technology

According to the recent Digiturva Barometer by the Digital and Population Data Services Agency, the sense of security among Finns in the digital environment remains high, with 85 percent considering the digital landscape to be at least moderately secure. However, 28 percent report a decline in trust in digital security over the past six months, driven by a significant rise in cybercrime and the introduction of new artificial intelligence services, which have generated interest but also skepticism.

The survey also highlights a growing interest in digital safety education.

Released on Thursday, September 21, 2023, the Digiturva Barometer examined experiences related to digital security and associated phenomena. A total of 1,000 Finnish adults participated in the survey. The results reveal that Finns have the most trust in content produced by authorities, with 88 percent expressing confidence in it. A clear majority also trust content from recognized domestic news media outlets (67 percent) and company content (61 percent). However, only one-fifth (20 percent) trust content on social media platforms.

The results also shed light on trust in artificial intelligence services, which are new to many Finns. Only 15 percent of respondents have a high or moderate level of trust in the content produced by these services. Trust levels are highest among young adults aged 18 to 24 (27 percent) and lowest among those aged 65 to 74 (7 percent). Only 18 percent have confidence in the secure handling of personal data by AI services.

It's important to note that a significant portion of the population may not yet have personal experience using these services. This is the first time that trust in artificial intelligence services has been explored in the Digiturva Barometer.

"User-friendly and free artificial intelligence services became widely accessible only at the end of last year. These are still new and unfamiliar services for many. Trust and digital confidence are built through knowledge and experience, which many have not had the opportunity to accumulate yet," explains Kimmo Rousku, Chief Specialist at the Digital and Population Data Services Agency.

Over a quarter (28 percent) of respondents claim to have received a fair amount or a lot of information about the safe use of artificial intelligence, while more than half (69 percent) believe they have received very little or no information at all. The age group that has received the most information is individuals aged 25 to 34. The majority (64 percent) express a desire to learn more about the safe utilization of artificial intelligence, particularly those aged 65 and older (71 percent).

"I'm pleased with the results. It's evident that we are digitally brave and have a positive outlook toward new digital services. At the same time, we remain appropriately cautious about digital services that are still unfamiliar and lack sufficient information. It's wise to approach these services with a hint of skepticism, especially when there's not enough knowledge available yet," says Rousku.

One noteworthy finding from the survey is the increasing interest in digital safety education. A whopping 70 percent of respondents express a desire to learn more about how to respond if they become victims of cybercrimes. This is a significant increase from the autumn 2022 Digiturva Barometer when only 46 percent were interested in enhancing their knowledge in this regard.

"Cybercrime and online espionage have significantly increased in the past year, as evident not only in media reports but also in the responses to this survey. On an individual level, the most effective remedy for this unfortunate trend is proper digital safety education. It's great to see that this need is being recognized," adds Rousku.

Similarly, 70 percent of respondents indicate that they would like to acquire more knowledge about troubleshooting digital service or device disruptions. A third high-interest area is understanding contemporary threats related to digital services or devices, such as digital scams, which piques the curiosity of around two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents.

"In conclusion, these results reflect positive progress. However, digital services continue to evolve, and artificial intelligence will likely accelerate these changes even further in the future. Let's stay curious about what's new while also remembering to prioritize digital safety education," sums up Rousku.