Snoops, thieves and saboteurs
Our digital worlds are under attack, and most of us are sitting ducks. Isolating our property, identity, reputation, and communication is challenging. Google, Russian hackers, NSA, Nigerian identity thieves, Facebook & North Korean Cyber-soldiers are trolling the web. And we can’t forget the teenager across the street with full access to our wifi signal. They are hungry, and we could be on the menu.
I’ve been a victim of hackers and malware several times starting in 1989 when my son brought a computer worm to my desktop on a disk he brought to our home in Ohio from his school in India. That first malware infection knocked out my hard drive, forcing me to rebuild my PC. I learned from that experience, so very little damage was done in the credit card number theft, ransom-ware, computer viruses, Netflix account hack and other malware I’ve dealt with since. But it has all been annoying and a waste of my precious time. I want that time back, but it’s gone.
Can we protect ourselves from such persistent, well-equipped forces?
Actually, we can. But it requires taking action; are you ready to do something about your digital security vulnerabilities? If so, read on:
If you chose to own your digital devices and put your information on them, you can choose to isolate and protect that data and those devices. There are options that totally eliminate hacking threats, fully guaranteeing privacy or others that improve your privacy and security to a lesser degree but do so more conveniently, with fewer sacrifices in your online capability.
Let’s discuss the data privacy ~ information security options available to us to deal with the hacking, snooping and other threats we are most concerned about. I’ll list the basic approaches, starting with the most secure:
- Totally Unplug: for absolute security of your information and devices, you can simply eliminate connections where bad guys gain access, providing total isolation of your data and devices. To do this you need to unplug your devices and data from the internet, wifi signals, telephone data networks and any other path for data invasion. Don’t forget thumb drives and DVD Roms, as these also can bring malware into your life, as I found out the hard way decades ago when my son brought malware on a disc. For this to be absolutely effective, you should remove data you plan to keep, then totally clean your computer and turn attention to data stored elsewhere. To be fully protected revise your banking arrangements and switch transactions from credit cards to cash. Following steps for personal credit monitoring and ID protection is also advisable on a DIY or service subscription basis. Yes, this is radical and harsh, but it is arguably the only 100% sure way to avoid the bad guys. It is, however, too restrictive for me.
- Segregate & protect: if you require access to the web for communication, browsing, and entertainment, as I do, experts suggest that similar to 1. above, sensitive data cleaning from your entertainment computer and protection of identity and reputation are needed in this case, too. All banking and online buying should be done on a separate secure computer. The secure PC is never used for general browsing, entertainment or email, and is fully secured with the best anti-malware software available. This system should be turned off or disconnected from the web whenever it is not in active use. If backups from other systems are stored or recorded using this system they should be encrypted first and stored in a way that makes execution or use of the data impossible on this system. When an internet connection is required, this should be done with the highest degree of network security available. I do my banking on a dedicated system, although I don’t have top anti-malware on it. At least I don’t have it yet. If kids will be using the system, and there is concern about predators, ISIS or other dangers, strong security and network security should be applied to the computer they will use also. We have detailed recommendations for this approach, here.