Gary Waters / Alamy Stock Photo

MY COMING CYBER WAR

I’m in a war not of my own making. On the front lines are tech giants like Apple, Samsung, and Amazon with their Kindles and Fire Sticks, plugged into our TVs and appliances and phones….they want to take control of my “electronic ecosystem” meaning my devices in my home, my car, the complex, inter-connected digital landscape of my world. Oh my! Help Alexa & Siri!

A Rational Response Website blackouts, airline computers shut down, millions of accounts hacked at government agencies, at Yahoo, at Target, blocked access at Twitter and PayPal…… has my very own personal Cyber-War already begun? We read about computers held hostage for Bit Coin by Ukrainian teenagers. Did my fridge just help out a hacker shut down PayPal? What does a rational response to this asymmetric electronic warfare look like?

Recent Denial of Service(DOS) attacks used webcams on flat screen TVs, internet access from refrigerators and other in-home devices that are not proper computers, but which can be ‘daisy-chained” into a group attack. Homeowners were innocent bystanders as the cyber war waged on….just as if invaders have entered your suburban village to shut down roads or blow up a bridge to block traffic and travel.

Former FBI Director Jim Comey warns us to cover the camera on your computer, exercise bike, and flat screen TV. No security really exists on these devices. The head of the FBI defended putting a piece of tape over his personal laptop’s webcam, claiming the security step was a common sense one that most should take. “There’s some sensible things you should be doing” according to Comey, “and that’s one of them. You go into any government office and we all have the little camera things that sit on top of the screen,” he added. “They all have a little lid that closes down on them. You do that so that people who don’t have authority don’t look at you. I think that’s a good thing.

Jim Clark, co-founder of Netscape and Shutterfly, has developed a new business on the periphery of cyber security and he shares his view of the flaws of current cyber security efforts in place to prevent hacks. Jim’s newest venture, CommandScape, offers an Internet of Things (IOT) security system from offices and homes that turns the notion of security upside down. In his view, passwords are soon to be gone — to be replaced by existing certificate security used to recognized trusted websites.

Email remains an entry point for hackers, malware, and cyber attacks without protection. Email breaches may not hit the news in the same way that data breaches at major businesses do, but they can be just as serious. Following basic best practices to secure emails still offers no guarantee that safety from cyber attacks. Hackers are a cunning group, and many of the old practices won’t stop the most determined ones. Now you don’t just protect your email systems, but also your phones, home security and anything connected via the new IOT designs to ensure greater security for your business organization and your home.

Do What You Can. Then Pray. Okay. Cover the camera on the laptop, and remove for Skype sessions. Check. Read up on best practices for password protection and follow. Check. Get security software for computers. Check. Pray to the digital gods to be spared from the cyber warlords. Done. Did our inter-connected, wired world get easier, or just more dangerous?