Whether you realize it or not one of the biggest threats to your personal security is your computer. And the Obama administration is bringing to light the fact that they believe, and you should too, that one of the biggest security threats to national security is also your computer.
The message is “Think before you click. Know who’s on the other side of that instant message. What you say or do in cyberspace stays in cyberspace – for many to see, steal and use against you or your government.”
The Internet, and the power it has in contrast to the security it doesn’t, is incredible. We have never seen something so powerful bring people together, educating, informing and making life easier but it’s also used to hurt, scam and debilitate in so many ways.
As reported in the Associated Press, the Pentagon’s computer systems are probed 360 million times a day, and one prominent power company has acknowledged that its networks see up to 70,000 scans a day.
Utilities, banks, retailers and just about every computer network are faced with attacks each day. Many of these hacks are insignificant. However many are with intent to commit crimes such as espionage, stealing financial data or destroying information.
The criminal hackers could be cyber terrorists trying to destroy the U.S. or its economy, malfeasance simply trying to wreak havoc for the sake of it, or opportunists looking to make a profit.
The US is a prime target for many reasons. The most obvious is we’ve made mistakes that have many in the world hating us. Then there is our financial system that’s wide open and lends credit to anyone with a Social Security number instantly checking and approving credit. And of course credit card security is an oxymoron because anyone any time can use anyone’s credit card present or non present. We have a bull’s-eye on us and we put it there.
A growing concern is “Weapons of Mass Disruption”. The US and many other countries are electrically/digitally dependent. Our critical infrastructures including drinking water, sewer systems, phone lines, banks, air traffic, and government systems, all depend on the electric grid. No electricity, no computers, no gasoline, no refrigeration, no clean water. After a major successful attack we’d be back to the dark ages instantly. Think about when the power goes out in your house for a few hours. We’re stymied.
The Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, are hiring thousands of computer experts to protect our networks. But the weakest link in the chain is not the government, but the citizens. Government has lots of work to do, but moms and pops are the most vulnerable. Enterprise networks have become hardened, while small business and the lowly consumer know enough about information security to get hacked. Awareness is key. You are either part of the problem or the solution.
Read this and every possible blog, article and report you have access to so you can stay on top of what is new and ahead of what is next in technology and the security necessary to keep it safe. Build your IT security vocabulary. Protect yourself and your business.
Those steps include:
Use antivirus software, spyware removal, parental controls and firewalls.
Back up your data locally and in the cloud.
Understand the risks associated with the wireless web especially when using unsecured public networks.
Protect your identity too. The most valuable resource you have is your good name. Allowing anyone to pose as you and let them damage your reputation is almost facilitating a crime. Nobody will protect you, except you.
- Get a credit freeze. Go to ConsumersUnion.org and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name.
- And invest in identity theft protection. Not all forms of identity theft protection can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk.