More Dangerous Than Malware?
Most experts writing about computer and Internet security focus on threats found 'out there' in the online sphere, or in the form of malicious hackers with malevolent intentions. The danger is that they will get to you or your computer, and steal or do damage. Most security measures focus on preventing such intrusions. But the greatest threat is not 'out there.' It's much closer than you think. Read on for the answer...
The Biggest Online Threat?
It's YOU, in fact. You are human (no matter what your kids or ex-wife says), and have a human mind (or enough of one to get by). Nothing is more capable of causing, or is more likely to cause you trouble. Yet the mind is seldom the subject of information security articles. This is one of those rare reads.
“It ain't what you don’t know that gets you into trouble,” wrote Mark Twain. “it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Almost every activity that a human performs, including most of what is supposed to be “knowledge work,” is done unconsciously; motions are gone through with blind faith that they will produce the same results they did last time. No attention is paid to what is right in front of you, in your hands.
That is why people click on links in emails that generally look like they’re from their bank; follow the instructions on what generally looks like their banks’ Web sites; and have their accounts emptied by bandits in some third-world country. Had you been paying attention, you would have noticed that your bank’s emails address you by name, not as “Dear Customer…” You would have remembered that your bank has told you, at the time you opened your account and many times since, that it will never ask you for your account password via email, and that you should always use a bookmark or type in the bank's web address. But busy people do not always pay attention.
It's why people fall for virtual kidnapping scams, or believe the "Nigerian prince" who promises that if you send him $5000 by wire transfer, he'll give you half of the $15 million lying dormant in a secret bank account. It's why lonely women send money to "international businessmen" they've never met, thinking they are helping to save the life of a dying son who desperately needs an operation. Kind-hearted people, especially the naive, the emotionally vulnerable, or the financially stressed ones, want to believe the best about others, even if it's not rational.
It's why people click into the dark corners of the Internet, or on flashing banners that say "You just won an iPad!" They believe that because they have McAfee or Norton AntiVirus, it will protect them from all possible cyber-threats. Of course, they don't know that viruses can morph and propagate in minutes, but it takes days for antivirus companies to update their malware signature databases. They haven't applied critical Windows security patches, or updated their software in years. Maybe they're just lazy, or too busy. More likely, they've simply decided to trust the claims of the company that sold them the Internet security suite, and pay $79 a year for "peace of mind."
It's why people don't make backups of their data, which might have protected them from the damage that can be caused by human error, hard drive failure, or ransomware attacks.
"You Can Trust Me..."
Trust is the belief that you can predict behavior with an acceptable degree of confidence. It might be the behavior of a person, a computer program, a pet, or a website such as Facebook or LinkedIn. Innumerable people have overestimated their prediction abilities with regard to people, programs, cars, pit bulls, “trusted service providers” and “trusted partners.”
When you decide not to use two-factor identification on websites that offer that option, you expose your account to compromise when data breaches reveal your username and password. It's happened to online department stores, banks, hotels, airlines, health insurance companies, and others that failed to protect your privacy and personal information.
When you answer seemingly harmless questions on Facebook quizzes, you willingly tell Facebook (and the app creator) about the books and music you like, your favorite color, your pet's name, the movies you've watched, and your favorite TV shows. That just might be enough to help a scammer figure out the answers to your password recovery questions.
The three “A’s” of security are: Attention, Adaptation, and Action. Pay Attention to what is right in front of you. Adapt your Action to new or changed external behavior. Don't blindly trust your antivirus software, your 12-digit password, or your hard drive. Don't click when you see “Dear Customer…", or when you know in your gut that something smells fishy. Are you paying Attention to me? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome! Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 28 Oct 2019
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- More Dangerous Than Malware? (Posted: 28 Oct 2019)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved