I’m Igor Stamatovski. I'm a programmer and have more than 18 years of professional experience in software development. I’m the co-founder and CEO of IBORN.NET a software development and consulting company.

In the past 9 years we have been successfully developing web based applications for health insurance in Denmark, tourism in Iceland, digital royalties accounting in Germany, part time expert employment, screening in the Netherlands, and many more.

Should a typical citizen in North Macedonia today feel safe online?

Boomers are definitely not safe. They are the most computer illiterate and are prone to fake news, phishing and social media scams. Generation X are much better, but Millennials, Generation Y and Generation Alpha are quite adaptable to online threats, pranks scams and all kind of fishing attacks.

Are there any ways to protect oneself from online threats, that everyone can apply?

Common sense, link checking, fact checking, referencing and using the browsers visual cues are the most useful ways. The phishing experts are quite sophisticated in exploiting all kind of various methods to extract as much personal information, passwords or account information as possible. So it’s a constant cat and mouse chase.

How do Macedonians value privacy, especially their online privacy?

My opinion is: not enough. A lot of private information is being published on social media, photos, location, phone data, phone contacts.

Are Macedonian institution safe from cyber-attacks? Are we doing enough to protect our critical infrastructure?

I don’t want to sound paranoid, but it is quite difficult. I don’t think that they do enough. Depends what critical infrastructure is meant by. At this moment the safest protection is, if critical infrastructure is not online. If it is cut off from the internet. That way it’s the safest.

Is the business sector following the latest trends in cyber-security & safety? Are private companies investing in security?

I can discuss companies that work with personal data either in Macedonia or in the EU. According to the GDPR and the Law for Data Protection, they are required to invest in security, devise audits, and implement stricter security measures, logon practices and encryption, anonymization and deletion of data. The best way to make any system secure is to store as little data as possible.

Are parents, teachers, and school children sufficiently aware of the cyber landscape, vis-à-vis online education? Are they informed enough to protect their data?

In these pandemic times they have become more and more aware as the whole educational process has moved online. But they still need to be more informed. Students are more technically capable and exploit online training tools and platforms, so teachers need to keep up.

How would you describe the trend in the recent years in terms of digital safety & privacy in our country?

I know there is a National Strategy for Cyber Security 2018 – 2022, by the Ministry of Information Society and Administration of the Republic of North Macedonia, but I’m not aware of its implementation status, action plan or any ongoing activities in that direction.

How do you see the media’s role in raising awareness about privacy & cyber-security issues going forwards?

The media should move away from sensational, “hacker” reporting, and into informing and education the public.

My experience is that the media are also not quite familiar with the technical and security aspects and they usually turn to sensational, click bating articles instead of deep analysis, investigative reporting, or informing the general public of how to address cyber security issues.

What would be your message to our fellow citizens: what should they avoid and be especially careful about?

Stay alert, make offline backups of important files and personal digital assets, like photos and videos, and keep educating yourselves constantly. Use password managers, two-factor authentication on your digital accounts and social media and don’t be afraid to do so. Move away from fear into knowledge acquisition and obtaining information on how to share, collect and exchange your personal information and data online.

This interview is a part of an interview series (1 out of 3) realized on the Hive Mind Community platform.

Hive Mind supports the journey of digital transformation by building media literacy skills throughout civil society and in communities where people come together to form trust and social ties.