Smarter information security

Is your data really well secured?Are you popular? Do other people have in interest for gathering data on you? Are the interested parties friendlies or otherwise utterly dangerous?

All these questions quickly come to mind for information security experts who look to secure data in all ways possible to prevent that it get leaked into the wrong hands.

The internet connects over 1.5 billion people daily, for anything ranging from email or web surfing to complex remote medical interventions — that makes for a tempting target for ill intended individuals looking to get their hands on sensitive data, which is basically why you need to protect yourself better.

What you did to protect your data a year ago probably isn’t as good today because the very nature of threats keeps shifting in sometimes unforseen territories. Regularly assessing the efficiency of your data protection will become even more critical in the future as attackers, ranging from more or less talented hackers, organized crime and even foreign governments will try their best to steal anything of value (for them) that you may have.

Your computer’s hard drive is like a proverbial safe which instantly becomes (way) more vulnerable from the moment you connect to the internet or even a home wireless network.

If you intend to have the upper hand against those determined to steal your data, you need to be one step ahead of them, namely with the following no non-sense strategies:

  • Enclaves – Early on, determine what’s the most sensitive data you must protect and give it special treatment because that’s probably what the data thieves will be looking for.
  • Border firewalls – Network-layer firewalls work best when combined with application-layer counterparts so be creative in protecting your “borders”.
  • Strong authentication – Require strong passwords (on everything) which must be changed regularly and for more serious security needs, consider using token-based systems (physical USB key-like devices with ever changing “tokens” to access the data).
  • Configuration and patch management – Make sure your (1) equipment, (2) software and (3) human resources are always “well maintained”… and up-to-date!
  • Host-based firewalls – Server and workstation intrusion, virus and malware protection is still essential to weed out the unwanted stuff that somehow finds a way in (in spite of all the other protections).
  • Data encryption – Make sure to especially encrypt data on mobile devices since they’re the ones likely to be lost (or stolen) when in transit — encrypt all you can.
  • Awareness and training – An aggressive cybersecurity program will go a long way in efficiently protecting yourself against newer threats.

While some treat data security entirely as a hit-and-miss process, experience shows that luck favors the prepared, when it comes to cybersecurity.

Forget the antiquated (but still active, alas) Nigerian bank scam threat pouring in email boxes all over the world, the newer threats tend to be socially engineered so ensuing phishing attacks are savvily aimed at the intellectual interest of the end user, making them that much harder to debunk. In other words, attacks are getting uncomfortably personal.

As you attempt, most probably armed with gear, software and knowledge, to fend off the attackers’ attempting to break open the gates to your digital kingdom, keep in mind that people are the weak link in any network security effort.

Interestingly, there’s a corollary to the “people are the problem” saying and it has to with the widely recognized fact that people are also the most effective “tool” to fight attackers.

Although you may never be perfectly secure, make an effort to prevent data thieves from succeeding in their highly illegal —and overwhelmingly stealth— attempts to steal from you.

Tags: security, cybersecurity, it, firewall, border, encryption, data theft, hard drives

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