There’s no such thing as bulletproof digital security
But, thankfully, there are simple things you can do to reduce your exposure. APC’s editor Dan Gardiner explains.
It’s no huge secret that the last 12 months have been a terrible period when it comes to digital security. Several major technologies that form the bedrock of our modern computing era have been shown to have critical vulnerabilities. We’ve seen KRACK undermine Wi-Fi and Spectre/ Meldown go to the very core of our smartphone and computer processors. In some cases, these are problems that can’t be 100% protected against with software updates — although installing the latter can mitigate the chance of an attack being successful to odds that are almost as good.
The good news is that cyber criminals are fairly savvy (and/or lazy) when it comes to choosing who they go after — meaning unless you’re a government employee or contractor, you work in an industry with super-secret trade secrets (and no, the ‘11 secret herbs and spices’ don’t count), or you’re a journalist covering geopolitically sensitive countries topics (like, say, China or Russia), it’s unlikely anyone is going to specifically target you for hacking. Like any good business operators, cyber crims want to see a good return on investment for their time, so they build viruses and exploits with the aim to infect as many machines as possible — to grab the low-hanging fruit, as it were. This means the best thing you can do it to protect yourself is get yourself higher up in that tree, and harder to reach.
How? Simple: give yourself a security audit and make sure all your devices have the latest firmware and software updates. Your smartphone, day-to-day PC/ laptop and home router should be the first hardware you check, alongside frequently-used software like your web browser. It’s worth remembering that the devastating ‘NotPetya’ ransomware attack that affected tens of thousands of devices back in mid 2017 was largely made possible because people hadn’t installed the latest OS patches. As much of a pain in the arse as those Windows updates can be, they do also protect you from many common security vulnerabilities.
You can check out this month’s superguide for key advice on other areas, like passwords and surfing the web safely — but making sure you install the latest software and hardware updates should be your first port of call.