The single most important security feature on any computer is you, the person behind the keyboard. As I said in the computer history article, there is a big focus on security with most reputable companies, so most computer systems are pretty well protected in the first place.
This brings us to you and people in general, we are the biggest security threat to any device that is hooked up to the internet. IBM, Forbes, SecureWorldExpo and many others are reporting 66% to 95% of security breaches are caused by human error. This also means that best case, we ourselves are the reason for computer error or information loss in 2 out of 3 cases.
It is why we are going to be talking about you and me as a security feature today. When it comes to internet connected devices and computers, the safest thing you can do is to be skeptical of anything that seems even slightly out of place. It could be an email from a loved one that doesn’t seem quite like their “writing style”, to that image or software you downloaded that doesn’t look quite right or even an app on your phone asking for privileges that seems out of place. This also includes logins and passwords, but it in itself is a pretty big subject, so we will take a look at this in another article.
To break these down, the reason to be skeptical of emails, messenger, Instagram or even a 4th platform, is that what is common for all of them is that it is extremely easy to impersonate anyone close to you. Usually the only way to distinguish a personal friend from a criminal is to check the username or email address, but in order to get this far you have to be skeptical enough to check the message in the first place.
When it comes to downloads it is good to take a look at whether the file you downloaded is the right format, so a jpg or png image should always have a jpg or png file ending and should usually also only be one file, not a folder or zip file. When it comes to software it is often a bit of a gamble, but you can always make sure to only download software from verified sources and only from websites that seems or are reputable. A giveaway for less reputable pages are usually that they are filled with banner ad’s and have several download buttons to try and confuse you into increasing their ad revenue or download dangerous software.
The last item on our list for today is apps, which is probably the one thing we are all accustomed to and download/use on a daily basis. It is also one of the biggest pitfalls around, as apps usually have access to several parts of your phone and your phone is treasure trove of your private information. This even includes information you might not think you are displaying to the world, as some apps have access to things such as your wifi, bluetooth and even gps, that combined with the time on your phone can be used to get your home and work addresses, work schedule and many other things.
This is why an important part of security when it comes to apps is to only actually have apps you use and need, as malicious apps can just run in the background and take what they need without you ever even knowing. It means you will have to clean up your apps once in a while and be a bit skeptical of the new ones you install, what do they want access to, do you really need the app, are there any parts of the app that seems particularly suspicious?
Just keep in mind that being a skeptical of communications with other people is not something that should impair you or your loved ones. Slowly doing spot checks when you have the time is good way to start out with identifying what are the areas where you are most exposed, which in the end will become second nature to you. After a few months, you should be seeing less new issues appearing and maybe even see old issues disappear.