Late last week the Obama administration released a document that outlined ideas and process for developing a more secure experience on the internet. There is a real and present danger from losing one’s confidential information through various cyber attacks. This leads to credit cards being charged for items you did not purchase, withdraws from your bank account, or even fraudulent accounts set-up in your name. It can wreck your finances, credit, and generally make life hell.
It’s worth reading the document if only to gird yourself against what will no doubt become the top panic topic du jour from the talking heads of media. The contents of the document will no doubt be distorted beyond measure.
My take from having read it is the technology and process already exist. There are many open source measures from PGP and OpenID that one can use to create a more secure precense on the web. The problem is it takes education and understanding – a focus that should have been the majority of the document but wasn’t.
Indeed, the strongest set of security tools and measures are completely useless if people don’t know how to use them and why they need to be used. Today’s internet environments like Facebook create habits that encourage one to lose their information. You become trained to click on any link someone sends (the quintessential internet security no-no), you friend anyone that sends you a request out of guilt, and post your daily information and habits for anyone to use to social engineer any answer out of you they’d like.
Creating good security habits, understanding how your information gets hacked and used, and knowing the basics for keeping the computers you use free of malware is a far better, far cheaper solution than any national internet ID plan.
Where do you get started?
Though it’s a bit dry, The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team has a good set of topics that is worth reading – from creating secure passwords to avoiding social engineering and phishing attacks.
All this is very similar to the old Smokey The Bear campaign – “Only you can prevent forest fires.”
Only you can prevent yourself from getting hacked.