We all have digital lives these days even if we never wanted to. The Internet has disrupted the way we live. The Internet and connectivity of everything is great and creates numerous advantages, but unfortunately with everything meant for good, people do use it for bad. Yes, believe it or not we all have to consider ourselves targets when it comes to our digital lives.
We are targets for hackers, both good and bad. Just for reference, the word “hacker”, should not always be considered negative, but usually is. The definition of a hacker originally meant “any person who enjoys understanding, modifying, and exploring programmable systems, particularly computers and computer systems. “ In the tech industry, we commonly use the words “White Hat Hackers” (good guys) and “BlackHat Hackers” or “Crackers” (bad guys).
Generally speaking, hackers are motivated by Greed, Challenge & Curiosity, Status, or Ideology. Greed would primarily be prompted by monetary outcome. Challenge & Curiosity are fueled by a desire to learn. Status is usually driven by a desire to bond or have respect. Ideology consists of core beliefs, like politics or religion. Unfortunately for us; nation states (i.e. China), organized crime, and people without morals have the opportunity to operate anonymously on the web and try to gain secret information or sell that information for money. The Internet makes is easy to cross national borders making prosecution even harder.
So what can we do to try and protect ourselves? Education!! Knowledge is the best defense in my opinion. Here is a short list of items to help:
- We need to make sure we are constantly aware of our devices. What devices connect to the Internet? (t.v.’s, thermostats, phones, cameras, etc.)
- Be careful about what you share on social media, there usually is no true ‘delete’ button on the Internet.
- Don’t click on that link (email, text, website ads, twitter, etc.) unless you are sure!
- Don’t open attachments unless you are sure the person sent them to you!
- If you are unsure, best to just delete it.
- Don’t use Public WiFi for sensitive tasks, like online banking or checking work emails.
- Use secure passwords and make sure not to use the same one. I recommend changing them regularly as well.
- Use Two Factor Authentication when available.
- Backup regularly!
- Make sure you are patching your PC via Windows Updates!
- Make sure you are patching your 3rd party applications as well. (i.e. Java, Adobe Reader, Firefox, Googles Chrome, etc.)
I will continue in the next installment to do a deeper dive into the items listed above. For now, let us know you’re here!