Technology has brought about many innovations and enhancements to everyday life. But with it has come the emergence of new threats. Today’s enemy comes in the form of cybercrime that’s prevalence has resulted in a now booming industry of cyber security professionals.
Data breaches and cyber vulnerability impact more than just business. They also affect a company’s reputation, customer trust, client safety, and employees. In recent years, we’ve seen some of the worst data breaches in history. Unsurprisingly, Silicon Valley has been bearing the brunt of it, something that we’ve previously discussed here. Some classic examples include Uber’s open source code breach, Yahoo’s multi-billion dollar account hack, and Ashley Madison’s massive data leak. These all prove that nobody is exempt from the risk. Whether it’s not securing your social media accounts enough or using ineffective passwords, what you think may be minor, unimportant details could result in more serious security problems down the line. So as internet users, what can we do to prevent online privacy invasion? Here’s what the experts do to practice responsible web use.
Chances are, we’re all guilty of hitting the “remind me later” button when it’s time for another software update. However, updates are there for a reason. Running an older operating system on your device increases the chance of a cyberattack. According to Security Fanatics’ Chief Security Fanatic Nick Espinosa, 50% of corporations have no formal cyber defense plan or continue to use outdated software. Andrew Newman, Reason Core Security CEO, also warns users of the dangers of using older browser versions, which can leave servers open to browser-based attacks.
In a hacking convention by the Information Systems Security Association, ethical hacker Dave Switzer said that the most useful measure people can do to protect their information is to keep their passwords secure. He cited an instance where he was able to break into a client’s email inbox simply by guessing his password—which ended up being the client’s street address. To create fool-proof password security, Switzer suggests never using personal information such as your name or birthday. Use a variety of special characters and never the same keywords twice—especially for emails and online banking. Better yet, use a password manager like 1Password or Lastpass. The cybersecurity rule of thumb is: if you can recall all your passwords, you’re not doing it right.
Passwords become even more effective when used as part of an overall security strategy. Gartner senior research analyst Neil Wynne advises admins not to rely on passwords alone. For even better protection, additional protective barriers like fingerprint scanners and cryptographic credentials can be installed.
Users should stop treating data security as a luxury. Like a car that requires its metal chassis, cybersecurity is the essential layer that businesses need to continue its operations safely and functionally. This includes other easily corruptible data, such as human resources information, credit card details, and voicemails. Former Green Armor Solutions CEO Joseph Steinberg cautions that even your Twitter account can be used against you.
At the end of the day, technology can only provide so much protection. Hackers can psychologically manipulate users into giving up sensitive information. It is up to users to take everything with a grain of salt. Never fall into the trap of clicking on message like “click here for a free iPhone” and similar scams. Humans are the weakest link in the security chain, so the balance between people and technology must be maintained.
Dustin Loeffler emphasizes the importance of the intersection of computer science, ethics and critical thinking. Professor Loeffler, who currently serves as the director of graduate studies for cybersecurity in Maryville University, urges students to think critically. He highlights the importance of ethical thinking in going hand-in-hand with the mastery of technology and problem-solving skills. It also addresses employers’ desire for developers who can understand the legal and financial repercussions of unethical practices and how applications can affect society.
Jessa Blundell is a New York-based business consultant with a passion for all things tech. When loves helping start-ups off the ground and writing about the latest technology issues.