Personal Cyber Security


So, as part of my ongoing quest for knowledge, I was led to getsmarter’s cyber security course and I thought I’d share some weekly insights as the course progresses.

As part of the first module we’ve been tasked to reflect on our own personal approach to cyber security and protecting of our personal information.

Admittedly, this isn’t something we often tend to think about - slap a free anti-virus on your personal computer and use a relatively strong password (like the dogs name with 123 added to the end) and we’re good to go.

Unfortunately, this isn’t enough anymore when it comes to the man on the street, or rather, man on the information superhighway (‘scuse the 90s lingo) security. So yes, there are a couple of extra steps we can take to beef up our online security practices and the internet are full of these recommendations and guidelines. So, I would like to introduce a slightly different approach to security.

I tend to believe that awareness plays one of the biggest roles when it comes to protecting yourself and your personal information. Much like the real world, digital pickpockets are lurking everywhere, so it’s important to know the (digital) environment that you’re playing in. Directed attacks, e.g. personally addressed emails from a seemingly legit source or clever social engineering tactics are some of the ways that online criminals employ to distract you and then quite skillfully, extract information from you. Then, even the most expensive anti-virus is gonna mean absolutely nothing. nada. zilz. squat. By being on the lookout for (often obvious scams or distractions) we’ve already taken a very big step towards protecting our online selves.


Additionally, most countries are, or have introduced legislation that provides guidelines and policies to organisation on how to deal with the protection of personal information of their clients and staff. In most cases, organisations are required to destroy personal data that they don’t use anymore, report any data breaches, store and protect data in a very specific manner and my personal favourite, divulge any personal information that an organisation may hold about me and should there be no legal reason for organisation to have or hold on the data, I can instruct them to destroy it. In countries where this is allowed, power is handed back to the individual to take charge of their personal online security.

This goes hand-in-hand with being aware, not only of the dangers lurking in the digital shadows, but also of having the option to leave a smaller digital footprint and exposing less of ourselves to any would-be digital pickpocket!