No one likes to believe they are in an insecure state. A feeling of insecurity is usually considered a bad thing. But vulnerability is not just an emotional condition. It is also a reality for many aspects of our lives.
That is why we have to get smarter about security. The people most vulnerable to attack are those who are unaware of their situation. When it comes to internet security ignorance is certainly NOT, as they say, bliss.
In 2009, MarketWatch took then Google CEO Eric Schmidt to task for suggesting that only people doing something wrong should be concerned about privacy. His exact quote was, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place…”
Eric Schmidt was wrong by word and implication. You don’t have to be doing something wrong to value privacy and security. The simple fact is you do have something to hide, quite a lot of things. And you have to be smart about hiding them. Here are a few of those things, and how you can do a better job of keeping you and your family secure:
The Personal Information Inside Your Home
Your home is full of valuables. And it is not just the stuff in the safe, china cabinet, and jewelry boxes. Some of your most valuable items are found in your mail. A burglar who doesn’t find the credit cards can still clean you out with a handful of mail. Identity theft can be devastating. Real-world issues can become cyberspace problems quite quickly.
Home security systems are not just for rich people with big screen TVs. They are also for people who have a computer, tablet, or smartphone in the house. There is a good chance you have a device like this at home left unattended for part of the time. We can’t have a grown-up talk about security without mentioning the obvious. 24/7/365 monitoring of your sensitive data is table stakes.
Internet of Thieves
When it comes to WiFi-connected devices, we have entered the silly season. Companies are desperate to find new markets for their chips. So they are slapping WiFi and cellular chips into every mundane object they can think of. From smart egg trays to smart coffee mugs, we have gone stupid over smart things.
What you have to realize is that everything with an internet connection is a potential risk. Your smart doorbell and smart fridge might actually be a part of the zombie net. The reason Apple’s HomeKit fell behind the competition is that manufactures did not want to pay extra for secure hardware and software Apple was requiring. They opted for partnerships that required no security measures at all. That made the internet of things fertile ground for the internet of thieves.
Be sure to only buy smart devices that have implemented secure chips and software. Your smart lock isn’t so smart if it can be as easily hacked as your toaster. Also, stop buying everything that comes out with a wifi chip in it. Your closet shelves do not need a smartphone app. Lower your threat profile by being smarter about smart things.
Strong Passwords for Weak Memories
You simply cannot secure sensitive data with password123. I understand that weak passwords are easy to remember. But if a password is easy to remember, it is also easy to guess, especially by a computer program designed to figure out passwords. You have to do much better.
There are many tools that can help you with this. And you probably already know about most of them. Two-factor authorization and password managers are good starts. The real challenge is getting you to take the threat seriously enough to use these slight inconveniences.
If you think you have nothing to hide, consider that your smartphone is the gateway to your spouse’s and child’s location and availability at all times for people who mean them harm. Every app and password is a gateway to that information. You cannot trust your mind for important passwords. They need to be strong enough to protect the most sensitive information you have.
At the end of the day, you have a lot to hide from people who wish you harm including passwords, location data, contacts of family and friends, financial information, work information, trade secrets, sexual preference, romantic partner information, and much more. Hide it better by being smarter about personal information inside your home, internet-connected devices, and stronger passwords.