In today’s world of instant gratification, it would really be strange if we didn’t have the same expectations for security and online safety that we have for watching movies on Netflix or getting the latest scores: we want it immediately and with as little effort as possible. But is that realistic?
Too many folks think it’s just a question of getting some security package __________ (fill in the blank: antivirus, antispyware, antimalware, secure cloud backup, internet security suite, VPN, password manager, …) and then we can stop worrying and having to pay attention to what’s happening online and around us. Our new product is going to protect us, and we can get on with our lives.
It’s not that we aren’t willing to buy or pay for security products, it’s that that’s pretty much all many of us do for our own security. And we only have two 2 requirements for the tools we get: everything must be plug and play, and install and forget. What a wonderful world it would be if all we had to do was push a button to make it so: security now!
But that’s not the way security works. Security is a team sport. We can, and should, get people to help us, but security isn’t something that can be done vicariously for us.
When you think about it, security for your computer or smart device is a lot like your health.
“Do you wear a seatbelt?“
The first time I heard the question from my doctor, I answered “yes, of course I wear my seatbelt,” but, after thinking about it for a moment, I said: “That’s a funny question to hear from a doctor, why do you ask?” And he explained that a patient’s answers to risky lifestyle questions about seatbelt usage, smoking, and alcohol consumption are good indicators of overall health and areas of risk.
Health is about more than taking vitamins and medication – your active participation is required to be healthy. Your lifestyle and your habits (what you eat, are you a smoker/non-smoker, do you exercise, and so on) play a big role in your well-being.
The same applies to your security.
It’s about more than just the security products chugging away to protect your data on your devices. Your behavior (your online lifestyle and habits) is a big factor in your overall security picture.
Try these questions on for size to see if your online habits are enhancing or diminishing your security.
– Do you keep your operating system and other software up-to-date?
(Hackers love exploiting OLD vulnerabilities that users forgot to update. Security professionals say that keeping their software up-to-date is the #1 thing they do for their security.)
– Do you share passwords across your online accounts?
(Security professionals know that using unique passwords for every site provides critical protection against hackers. A password manager like Sticky Password is your best bet to having unique passwords for each of your logins.)
– Do you login to your bank and other online accounts over public WiFis?
(Public is PUBLIC – it’s not worth the risk! Consider using a VPN when accessing public networks, or wait until you get home before you log in.)
– Do your passwords include your pet’s name, family nicknames or words?
(Using personal information or real words in your passwords exposes you to so-called dictionary attacks, and attacks by those who know you, or who may pick up important clues to your passwords via social media.)
– Do you over-share on social media?
(For example, do you broadcast over social media during your two-week vacation when your house is empty? Are you revealing more than you’d like with every photo by including the GPS coordinates of your location?)
Security is about the tools you use (those great security products) PLUS the way you use them and the way you act online (your participation).
Like it or not, security is an ongoing process and requires lots of practice. Give yourself the best chance for a safe security check-up and having security now by making your active involvement a component of your security defense.
It’s October, and that means that National Cyber Security Month (#NCSAM) is in full swing! Join us each Thursday as we participate in Twitter Chats (#ChatSTC) hosted by StaySafeOnline.