I want to put a recent and immutable fact of life into perspective for you, so stick with me for a few paragraphs, please. If you have had your Facebook account hacked, raise your hand. My, that’s quite a few. If you have had your identity stolen, raise your hand. Hmm. Still quite a few. If you just know someone who has had their identity stolen, raise your hand. Uh-huh. It happens a lot. And how are these seemingly small and local incidents different from the recent massive Russian hack of the US Treasury, Commerce, State, Energy, and Homeland Security departments, Intel, Nvidia, Cisco, Belkin, and VMWare? They are not different at all. Why am I telling you about this? Hacking is a robbery, just as if you were accosted on the street. But instead of being robbed at that one moment, the stealing of valuables can go on for months and months.
“Technology Is Too Complicated For Me To Understand”
I hear this all the time. My answer is: “No, it is not.” Computers continue to stimulate a love/hate response from everyday people who use them all the time. Wow—they save me so much time! Boo—I don’t know why my screen just went blank. Our computers and smartphones have taught us to expect instant gratification from them. For example, who could travel now without Google Maps, or without Google for everything? Did anyone take classes on how to use this service? Or how to use Waze? Or how to game? You probably continue to learn new things about your computer and your smartphone without consciously thinking “I must learn more about my electronic devices.” We are assimilating and adapting to our electronic gadgets at a dizzying pace, and we have been quick to make use of technology aids like smart plugs, Ring doorbells, and Alexa. But when it comes to securing and protecting these Jetson-esque wonders, many seem to think that security protocol should be only a corporate headache.
“I Do It At Work Because I Have To But I’m Not Going To Do That At Home”
Wait—what? You’ve been told it is a part of your job to use company security protocols, so you do. But when it comes to your identity, your passwords, your personal accounts—you don’t want to bother? Isn’t that backward? I’m reminded of a story about a limo driver who paid attention to the stock trade tips he heard being discussed by his backseat passengers. He listened, and he retired early. Whatever you are learning about cybersecurity at your job should be free advice on how to protect your home. Think “bonus” not “bother.” Talk to someone who has had their identity stolen and learn about the time and hassle it took them to restore their credit and their accounts. Getting hacked personally is serious and can be crippling for a long time.
Why Am I Telling You About This?
Information Technology is what I do professionally. I have learned that many people believe that IT only applies to their business network at their job. The windmill I tilt is convincing folks that computers are computers are computers. There should be no lines drawn between work cybersecurity and home cybersecurity. If computers and smartphones and tablets are here to stay, then so should be the responsibility of knowing how to defend this lifestyle. Many can remember when they never used to lock their doors at home or lock their cars. Who takes those chances in today’s world?
My company, Aptica, cares about sharing what we know about IT with our communities. The more you know, the safer you can be. It took several months before the Russian hack was discovered. It will take many more to try to clean up that breach. It is worth your time to learn your security status. Start by asking us questions with a phone call. Aptica includes employee training and training updates in our security protocols for small to medium-sized businesses.
Jason Newburg, 260.243.5100, ext 2101, is the founder and owner of Aptica LLC. This IT management and support company has been serving small to medium-sized businesses for 19 years in the region that includes Angola, South Bend, and Fort Wayne, IN, Battle Creek, MI, and Toledo OH.