I am tired of receiving spam messages from friends whose computers/smartphones have been compromised. This is due to our plain and simple negligence in a constantly online world. We use computers/smartphones and other devices without understanding the risks and consequences. We expect our data to be kept safe by the organisations we deal with, but are seemingly lax and frivolous with the way we treat our own data and electronic devices. We wonder why our online account got hacked, or why someone is targeting our family with sinister messages, or why we see an influx of junk mail in our inbox.
The answer: WE are responsible! This will be a weekly series, what I expect you to do is this: Each week, carry out a self-assessment and try and fix the issues quickly. Not carrying out these over a prolonged period is like keeping your front door open while going out for a vacation, not to mention putting up a huge sign “We are away on a vacation!!” (see graphic)
- I shall endeavour to use a legal copy of my current OS or switch to an Open Source Operating System!
Why? Because a pirated Operating System not only compromises the security of my online transactions but also those of my family members that use my computer. I will also be able to get upgrades and security fixes to my Operating System which will prevent attacks from viruses, Trojans and other malware that intend to compromise my system.
Analogy: I put a proper lock on my front door and ensure all my cupboards are safely locked at all times.
- I shall get a trained person to update the firmware on all my electronic devices such as computers & smartphones!
Why? Because the firmware updates will patch all current detectable vulnerabilities and will prevent their exploit by hackers and other nation states that want to carry out subversive activities against my country.
Analogy: I get a trained person to carry out repairs to my home, I don’t want a carpenter fixing my plumbing in my house right? I also ensure that my front door that does not close at all is fixed the very next day by a competent person.
- I shall install an antivirus and firewall and ensure that it is set to automatic updates, and that a manual scan is carried out at least once a month!
Why? I do not know which viruses/trojans will target my operating system and applications and pass my confidential information to hackers. They want my information and I will not give it to them.
Analogy: Do I not check my doors/windows at night to see it they are locked and ensure the safety and comfort of my family.
- I shall at least inform or carry out an upgrade for my neighbour, friend, relative who is unable carry out the upgrades themselves, due to funds, limitation of technology or age!
Why? If their security is compromised that will mean that the information I share with them will also be compromised and leaked.
Analogy: Do I not alert my neighbour or family member if I see their door damaged or lock broken? If I see the lock damaged of my building, I alert the maintenance manager to have it fixed in the shortest possible time.
- I shall teach children and young persons the dangers of posting private material and photographs of themselves and their friends online on social media sites!
Why? Hackers can build a picture of my family and friends and target them so as to cause my family and me serious harm to my reputation. Believe me, if my information is out there, hackers are using it, don’t be naive!!
Analogy: Do I put up photographs of myself and give out information about myself on notice boards in my building, college or do I make photocopies of my profile and hand them out to any stranger I meet on the street?
To be continued…..