Don’t say you were not warned. As time goes on and more and more government agencies and financial institutions come under attack it’s become increasingly obvious that we’re not winning the war against computer hacker attacks. Says who? A former director of the FBI’s crime and response unit doesn’t think we’ll solve this problem in our lifetime.
In essence, someone who should know is telling us, ‘We can’t beat the hackers. Yet.‘
What can we do? Computer are everywhere and most of us rely on systems well out of our control. I see two ways we can protect ourselves, and both require a little effort and time, some luck, and a few good choices.
Out of Control: First, the systems out of our control. Those include banks, online email services like Gmail and Yahoo!, company email systems, and wherever we store information about us online; whether the bank down the street, an insurance company, a hospital, or anyplace else connected to the internet that also has us fill out and store information on their systems and not on our own.
About all we can do here is to make a list of where our data and private information is stored, make sure the password and user names are strong and changed regularly (and not use the same ones everywhere), and check them often. Ny monitoring such sites and information regularly we can mitigate damage when hacks and data loss does occur.
Sorry, that’s the price of a computer–based society. If we live online, we need to be aware of the risks and willing to put in the effort to mitigate the risk and potential damage.
In Control: Second, these are personal devices and systems within our control. Since more than 98-percent of mobile device malware belongs to Android users, simply using iPhones and iPads will limit risk. There are far more exploited vulnerabilities for Windows PC users than Macs, so using a Mac will limit risk.
If that sounds too easy, it is. Even switching everything to an Apple product brings some risk. Maybe not as much as your Windows-loving, Android-toting neighbors, but care must be exercised. That means the home and small office routers must be locked down. On the Mac, turn on the firewall, make sure you avoid websites that are not well known, and don’t download applications unless they’re from trusted sources.
You might even want to do something simple like put a sticker over your Mac, iPhone, or iPad’s front-facing camera. Wil Gomez explains why.
I view the present and much of the future– at least until someone comes up with ultimate security measures (or effective deterrents like electrocuting hackers who are caught)– much like the Whack-A-Mole game. You can’t really win, but if you keep playing it will be more difficult to lose.