Did you know that October is Cyber Security Month? All of these so-called holidays that have been created can seem a little silly (National Red Stiletto Day, anyone?), but serious ones like Cyber Security Month should make us pause for a few seconds to think about our current status.
Do you use cyber space? Of course you do. Everyone does. If you use a credit or debit card to make a purchase, you’re a user of cyber space. If you have a thermostat or alarm system that you can access from your smart phone or tablet, you use cyber space. If you swipe an ID card to enter a building or clock in to work, or if you have a barcode scanned when you use mass transit or toll roads, you use cyber space. If you use social media, you are in cyber space. If you use the internet in any way, you use cyber space. If you use cyber space, you are a potential cyber-crimes victim.
That’s scary to think about, right? In our quest to make life easier by having more and more apps and services do things for us electronically and store our data electronically, we also increase our risk of weakening our cyber security. There are different viruses, malware and cyber attacks launched on a daily basis. The big ones hit the news – like when there’s a data breach at a national retail store or a movie studio’s emails get hijacked. But there are thousands of incidents that occur to regular folks every single day that don’t make the news, so many people are not fully aware of how widespread cyber security weaknesses are.
If you attempt to research all the different ways you can be violated through cyber space, it can be overwhelming. Not only are there myriad possibilities, but the amount of information that’s available online – through cyber space – will make your brain spin. To complicate matters, it’s sometimes hard to tell what information is legitimate and what is not. Is an article’s author “sharing” information with you because s/he is coaxing you into purchasing a product that may or may not protect you? Is the website you just visited a cyber criminal’s landing pad, and in your quest to get educated, you’ve landed on a web page that has just dumped password-stealing malware onto your computer? If you’re not even thinking about these types of possibilities before you click on a link, you’re increasing your risk of becoming a victim of a cyber crime.
I’m very concerned and very aware about these types of possibilities, yet I don’t want to spend hours each month researching the latest schemes, scams, viruses and cyber security weaknesses. That’s why I rely on a monthly newsletter from Bryce Austin of TCE Strategy. I’ve met him. I know he’s a cyber security expert. I know that I can trust his information. He doesn’t realize it, but I’ve delegated my research to him. It’s one less thing I need to do, yet I still get the information I need to stay up to date on cyber security. (How efficient!) Happy Cyber Security Month, Bryce!