We have all heard of the dangers about online tools – especially with social networking. What is strange is how these dangers go ignored – even when users are victimized. Ever heard these before?
“I am not that important.”,
“No one is really looking at me anyway”,
” I don’t have anything up there that people don’t already know”
“I am safe… I don’t post anything about myself”
We have all heard this before, and even in cases where you don’t post anything or contribute to social networking sites, you are still at risk. The risk is not direct – it is indirect and the causes are not where you might expect. We have all heard about big businesses being hit with data breaches. This is due to APTs (Advanced Persistent Threats) that specifically target these large companies, but think about your daily life and where you are indirectly interacting with technology.
A number of data breaches are due to a lack of security. Social Network sites contribute to this security risk as they are the most populated and the most heavily infected sites in the world. The infection is not just in the form of malware (viruses, trojans, etc), but also include tools that capture information we voluntarily provide, which is then used to take advantage of the unsuspecting user. Personal information we supply to sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is available to those who really want to obtain it. In some cases, obtaining this information is not very difficult. We add fuel to the fire by adding information to these sites telling people where we are or more importantly where we are NOT.
Let’s think a little more about where we interact with technology… We may be doing it right now… how are you viewing this site? My first guess would be your phone. Our mobile devices provide us a great convenience – even though we now look at mobility as a necessity. While we have made strides in enhancing the security of mobile devices, they are still very vulnerable and subject to the same attacks we see from a laptop and desktop computer and once compromised any stored data is available for the taking.
Let’s keep digging… especially at the things we take for granted. Did you know that a large number of reported data breaches come from the health care industry? You might think the health care industry is suppose to be very secure to protect their patients and this is actually true. There are a number of compliancy regulations in place to guide health care providers to protect patient information, but keep in mind, while the provider may take all of the measures to protect you, not all members of the facility are aware of the security measures and are not always aware of the dangers of data breach. Makes you wonder what happens to all of the forms you are asked to fill out when you visit your doctor.
So, how do you keep yourself safe?
This is a tough one unless you are willing to go off the grid, but there are a few things you can do.
First, start with a little research about you and your current online presence. A number of identity thieves can start with a simple internet search, but it can help you identify the information that is out there about you. It might be a good idea to look at not only the online information but your financial information as well.
Second, start cleaning up your act. Look over the security settings of any subscribed web site and see how they apply to your personal information. Take a look at posts you have made to Facebook and Twitter and remove those that are questionable. Remove any subscriptions you have to sites you don’t use. Remember while the information is not totally removed, the threat to you is lessened.
Third, protect yourself. Look at anti-malware software you already have and consider improving it (yes this is the shameless plug). Also consider your local temporary files, internet history and installed applications. Remove the apps that you don’t use, update those that are out of date. Make sure you are patching not only your software but your operating system. Many of the breaches can be attributed to vulnerable machines.
Finally, be aware. Educate yourself. Don’t misunderstand, we are not asking you to become a geek like me, but simply associate your current personal security to your online security. If your protect your family and valuables, protect your online information in a similar fashion.
Now, these are just a few simple things you can do, and there are tools out there like LifeLock that can help you with this. Do your homework and don’t be afraid to ask questions… just make sure there is a trust of the person you ask.