I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that every other week a news story emerges about a recent/imminent/possible cyber security threat that we should be fearful of. A notable handful being :
- LinkedIn password leak: hackers posted a file of more than 6 million encrypted passwords to a Russian web forum. This gave the papers something to write about for a few days and prompted mass password resetting.
- Flame malware discovered: which is piece of malware that attacks ‘trusty’ Microsoft Windows OS and is being used for targeted espionage in Middle Eastern countries.
- The imminent threat of WW3/Cyber Terrorism on a global scale/The Matrix : this is the periodic release of worst case scenario stories - basically what if Osama Bin Laden had started coding from a young age.
Cyber Terrorism - really?
Unfortunately the threat of cyber terrorism is very real and the near future is likely to contain some examples of this. MI5 boss Jonathan Evans says "So far, established terrorist groups have not posed a significant threat in this medium, but they are aware of the potential to uses cyber vulnerabilities to attack critical infrastructure and I would expect them to gain more capability to do so in the future" as long as Bruce Willis is still around everything will be fine.
This isn’t something worth worrying about though and we just need to put our faith in our security services working behind the scenes.
Everything on your smartphone - practical.
In five years will there be anything that you can’t/don’t do with your smartphone?
With the advent of apps such as Google Wallet and Barclays Pingit, you can now send money to other smartphones which are linked to a bank account. Earlier this year Martin Reisch, from Montreal, successfully entered the US with a scan of his passport on his iPad. So it is only a matter of time before passports, driver’s licence, boarding passes, keys etc. are all stored on your prospective smartphone/tablet -having everything on one device is a very attractive prospect for criminals.
What do I need to worry about: Keeping your personal information safe and secure.
One option would be to dig your head in the sand, throw caution to the wind and let Karma take care of you, bear in mind this requires you to go the extra mile to help your fellow man - I’m talking organ donation, picking up dog mess in your spare time and giving all disposable income to charity. And that still might not suffice.
Option two will apply to most of the general population. Here are a few things you should do, (use a popular search engine to find more tips) :
- Change the default name of your home wifi network and admin password. If you don’t understand this, read http://compnetworking.about.com/cs/wirelessproducts/qt/adminpassword.htm
- Never use the same password for everything. If the wrong person acquires it, then you’re fudged. Obviously the safest thing would be to have a different password for every account you own. If you’re not rain man, I’d suggest having separate passwords for different bank accounts etc and then maybe a few for less important things like social networks.
- Change your passwords regularly - how regularly is up to you - remember the more frequent = more secure. Just don’t forget them...
- Your password should be alphanumeric something like a3c54klh4pew - slight overkill for most but definitely not: password or 12345678. Also do not use such things as your pets name, especially when you’re social networking account/s are plastered with pictures of said pet.
- Sounds obvious, but while surfing the internet avoid clicking on things that say ‘You have won something’ , ‘meet attractive people in your area’, ‘increase the size of...’ , ‘get a six pack with one sit up’ the list goes on, but you get the picture. The fact that you are reading this means you are probably already aware of this but others who use your devices/network may not be - INFORM THEM.
- Have a pin on your smartphone. Even though this won’t stop the hardened cyber criminal, you have a key to your house, your car, your facebook account and the same applies here - avoid 2580, 0000, 1234 etc. It will buy you a bit of time to change passwords, cancel your Google wallet or whatever else you need to.
The purpose of this post is not merely mindless scaremongering and hopefully you haven’t learnt anything new, if you have then start practicing safe surfing.