Alex Miller, a retired Navy cryptologic officer, who spent more than 33 years in the Navy, and retired in 2005 as a rear admiral while serving as the chief of staff at the National Security Agency has stated in an interview for the New New Internet Newsletter; “I think there are many cyber threats out there: nation-state, terrorists, illegal activities, to name a few. But I’d say the greatest threat is the ignorance of the people who use computers and the Internet and their failure to realize how vulnerable they really are. Password protection and point defense systems that we use now are very vulnerable, and they [instill] a false sense of security. Securing our computers and trying to mitigate our risk while on the Internet will be a significant issue for the foreseeable future.”
For many of us who’ve been trying to educate computer users about safe use of the Internet and best security practices, this statement isn’t new news. But having someone with Alex Miller’s background say it, is a resounding clarion that all computer users should heed. As he states, many computer users are lulled into a false sense of security when they use passwords to access applications, etc. By this he means using passwords is only a small part of what it takes to make your computing experience a safe one. The other message here is that if computer users were more aware of the vulnerabilities, and the protective security practices to prevent them, cyber threats would be more manageable, possibly non-existent (okay…I can wish, can’t I?).
What I mean by this is; much of the cyber criminal activity is aimed at Internet computer users like you and I, and we are therefore the first line of defense. For example, if fewer computers were infected with viruses; they would spread less rapidly, or perhaps not at all. Likewise, the criminal bot nets that reside in many (read millions) computers and are controlled by criminal organizations, require the infestation of home computers to operate. That’s right, they need millions of computers like yours and mine on which to place their malware bots or they won’t be successful in their criminal activity.
What can you do to increase your defenses and be less vulnerable to these cyber threats? Educate yourself and implement good cyber security practices. Start by reading my article Good Security Habits. Next, read the cyber security tips articles on US-CERT Website, and start visiting the following blogs: Bill Mullins Tech Thoughts, What’s On My PC, and of course Paul’s Internet Security Blog on a regular basis to stay abreast of the best practices in Internet security and many of the tools you can use to build your defense. If, after educating yourself on what to do, you don’t feel comfortable creating a secure computing environment; contact a computer technology support person or company to help you put it in place.
|The bottom line is this: if you ignore this advice and do nothing, you will remain part of the problem; however, if you heed this advice and secure your computer and Internet use, you’ll be part of the solution to fighting and reducing cyber threats on the Internet.|
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Remember, home computing is a blast…keep it productive and enjoyable.