August 2, 2016, by David McCauley – Cyber security is a growing concern across business sectors and even within our own homes. We live in an increasingly connected world where we are all citizens of the internet. Compromised systems, viruses, hacking can cause damage on a global scale. Vulnerable machines can be manipulated and used to spread digital infections that pollute the cyber world. Cyber security is important because our social lives, business dealings, and personal information are all at risk.
Identity theft and fraud are very real threats with potentially devastating consequences. Poor social networking practices can make your accounts insecure, leading to stolen data and potential material loss. Any intrusion into your personal financial or professional lives can lead to damage to your reputation and finances. As Internet citizens we hold a shared responsibility educate ourselves and participate in safe Internet usage practices. On a larger scale, businesses are responsible for providing their customers with safe networks and secure payment systems. In May 2015, 1.1 million records were compromised at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, making it one of worst breaches of 2015.
Similarly, the government is responsible for enforcing anti-cybercrime laws and prosecuting those who disobey. Our responsibility begins with something as simple and ubiquitous as password protection. Ensuring that your devices are password-protected and regularly updated can help ensure that your data is secure. In businesses, strong data security practices frequently include passwords must meet minimum security standards and must be regularly replaced. By taking time to learn about and understand the risks behind data breaches, you can protect yourself and your family. More than this, learning the value of cyber security can help you enjoy the Internet in a secure way. Ashley Madison, Sony, and target have all suffered devastating security breaches. These demonstrate that all industries are at risk and that the data you have entrusted to them is also at risk.
There are several steps that you can take as precautions to secure your data. The first step is accountability – namely accountability for your own information. You must selectively choose what information and with whom you will share. Carefully research what you’re signing up for and how your information can be used. The best way to prevent your own data from being leaked is to limit how much information you share.
The second step you can take to prevent unauthorized access is the utilization of two step authentication. Frequently this indicates the necessity of two sets of passwords or pins that must be entered together to function. Third-party apps that generate random pins may also be used in conjunction with your traditional password. Blizzard Entertainment, known for their Warcraft and StarCraft series, utilizes two-step authentication.
The third step is the implementation and maintaining of secure infrastructures. High-profile corporations are tempting targets for hackers with an agenda. Many companies who accept payments from their customers will have personally identifiable information in their databases, including sometimes Social Security numbers and credit card numbers. Businesses that handle sensitive information maintain strict data handling procedures to prevent unauthorized access to these materials. Enlisting a staff of cyber-security experts and data security analysts is not uncommon.
If company is hacked, proprietary information can be stolen that could damage the profitability of the company. When the information taken belongs to consumers, those consumers in turn can lose trust in that company. By limiting access to sensitive data and employing advanced security measures, we can all help mitigate the potential damage of costly data breaches.
About the Author: D.M. McCauley is a former U.S. Navy sailor who worked in Intel. After the service he has dedicated his time to writing and traveling with his significant other.