What if we couldn’t get online?
Not for minor interruptions in service, or as we pass through a zone without a wireless signal, but, what if the Internet … shut down? What if a terrorist act took down the infrastructure on which we hang our personal data and other documents?
Internet access, especially cloud storage and other means of paper-busting, creates a convenience, for sure. But when parts of the Internet are compromised, many of us will be left without things we thought were safe from just about anything.
As the technology we rely upon to create these virtual file cabinets advances, so too do the toolboxes of those who would harm us and take what we value enough to store. Or, at least, keep us from having access to it all.
The 2013 Internet Security Threat Report found:
- Email spam at 69 percent of all messages
- 14 zero-day vulnerabilities
- A 42 percent increase in targeted attacks in 2013
Attacks come from all angles. The report revealed a 125 percent increase in phishing sites for social-network websites. Information is stolen on 32 percent of all mobile threats. Businesses with fewer than 250 employees are in the crosshairs of 31 percent of all targeted attacks, according to the report.
How are we being protected?
The threat of cyber piracy, cyber attacks and cyber war are real. If the Chinese government can decipher as many as 50 million lines of code to reverse-engineer an American reconnaissance plane, as it did in 2001, anything we entrust to the cloud or any other web storage is certainly at risk.
Could China’s actions signal to the world that America’s civilian and military infrastructure is vulnerable, prone to compromise by anyone with advanced cyber skills? What can the U.S. Cyber Command really do to keep our Internet safe?
The vigilance we take to protect ourselves cannot cover our nation or our community. It’s upon us to take care of ourselves and family, and rely on those around us to do likewise.
How can you protect yourself?
The threats are extensive: Keylogging, phishing, trojans, worms, viruses. There’s enough for us to worry about without thinking about what the Chinese and other governments could do.
Here are three things you can do to protect yourself online, and three things to do offline, to ensure your valued data is always accessible to you.
Scan all files
No matter where they come from, scan all files you receive, be it chat, instant message or file-share service. Most email services do this automatically, but an extra scan isn’t a bad idea. You should scan documents you send, too. They might already be infected.
Look for unexpected macros
Most Microsoft Word macros are fine, but they can also trigger viruses. Don’t run a macro on a file from someone you don’t know, and on files you know shouldn’t need one.
Don’t automatically open email
Email programs that open a message automatically are convenient – and risky. It’s how viruses are spread. Some programs open or attempt to preview contents of an email before you even click on it. Ensure you have the right to delete any message before it has a chance to infect your computer.
Print out documents
Take a break from being green. Keep hard copies of important documents. We have the false sense of security that anything scanned into the cloud is safe and sound forever. Don’t make that assumption. If it’s worth storing on the cloud, it’s worth keeping locked up in an old reliable safe, too.
And don’t put your combination on the cloud, either.
Reliable Internet service – especially the kind you can take with you on the go – is essential for you to be as prepared as possible for the unexpected. Find a flexible plan by visiting sites such as CLEARinternetdeals.net/plans.
Share with permission. Written by Lewis Jacobs, a technology enthusiast and Internet Nerd. He enjoys writing about Internet technology, computer repair and social media. You can follow him @LewisJacobsblog.