Maintaining cyber security can’t be casual

EDMONTON, AB, Jan. 23, 2013/ Troy Media/ – It is better to be the spider, or at least aware of the spider, than the fly on the worldwide web. Use caution on the internet to avoid being inter-netted and fear, good healthy fear that has been keeping us safe since we first walked upright, is the key.

But despite warnings about vulnerability issues, attitudes still seem to be lax when it comes to online security – even by those that have already been personally victimized.

Siber Systems, Inc., a leading developer of software productivity tools for consumers and businesses and maker of password manager RoboForm, discovered this dangerous behaviour in a wide-ranging study.

Of the over 700 adults surveyed in November and December 2012 in the U.S., and European countries, nearly 30 per cent have had a fraudulent experience with an online account. Of that number over half have had their email hacked; 23 per cent have had a security breach with online shopping and 29 per cent had been affected by a breach in a social media account. Sadly, an alarming number, 79.2 per cent continue to use a site linked to an account that had been compromised. Even more staggering is that 60 per cent of the participants are convinced that online companies are careless with regards to security of customers’ personal information with 57 per cent singling out Facebook as being their least trusted site.

People are not unaware of the problem; they just don’t seem to care. According to Bill Carey, VP of Marketing with Siber Systems, it’s just that there is a huge disconnect between a person’s perception of risk and what they’re willing to do to protect themselves and their valuable information. Just look at the volume of info added to Facebook each day.

In fact, more than half of the respondents (under the age of 45) feel that security is the responsibility of the operator. This seems short sighted if they don’t trust the operator to begin with. Nevertheless, it seems this “totally-not-my-problem” attitude is a major factor in computer users not improving their own personal security practices.

One way of reducing the probability of being compromised can be as simple as proper password practices and use of a password manager. This includes creating passwords that are not easy to guess, having longer passwords that may be harder to crack and different passwords for personal and business use. Even the proverbial “mother’s maiden name” commonly used for years in the banking industry as part of identification verification can easily be found by searching family tree sites or more popular social media sites.

Occasionally, that too, is not enough. Just look at what happened last June when a password file containing 6.5 million LinkedIn passwords were leaked and posted on a Russian hacker site.

And, even when companies do enhance their security, for example by adding two-step login verification, almost a quarter of the survey respondents balked at the idea and 13 per cent indicated that the process was too complicated. On the flip side, 42 per cent indicated they would be more inclined to trust a company with their personal information.

Users can also improve the security of their data by keeping their software updated and current – many companies regularly update or patch their software when vulnerabilities are discovered. The same goes for operating systems like Windows, all iterations, and Mac OS X.

It’s also a smart idea to use anti-virus protection and malware checkers from companies like Kaspersky, Intego and Symantec.

How many times does one need to be victimized before they will actually do anything about it? There’s no guarantee that taking these precautions will prevent a breach, but it should reduce the probability.

Greg Gazin is a Tech Columnist, Small Business and Technology Speaker and Senior Editor at Troy Media. He can be reached at Gadgetguy.CA on Twitter @gadgetgreg or you can find him on Empire Avenue at (e)GADGET1.

This article is FREE to use on your websites or in your publications. However, Troy Media, with a link to its web site, MUST be credited.


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