The subject of security has been a hot-button topic in Information Technology as well as many other industries in recent years. While deeper adoption of the Internet for business in recent decades has allowed for more automation, collaboration, and productivity, what has also followed in its wake are several high-profile data breaches and system intrusions that have exposed credentials and personal information of millions of people.
With all that said, we can look back into history for some perspective:
In a failed bid to assassinate King James I of England on November 5th, 1605, a member of a group of conspirators named Guy Fawkes was discovered preparing 36 barrels of gunpowder (roughly equivalent to 5,500 lbs. of the stuff) hidden beneath Parliament with intent to destroy the seat of power of the British Crown.
It was a mixture of luck and a tip-off to King James himself that Fawkes was captured, and the reality of the Gunpowder Plot was discovered. Guards instructed to search for signs of hidden stores of gunpowder found him preparing the cache under Parliament, presumably not long before Fawkes was to touch off the explosion. Had it detonated, it would have destroyed Parliament and left everything within a 1,607-foot radius devastated.
You may already be asking yourself, “What does this little history lesson have anything to do with the modern world of Information Technology”? Apart from the fact that 413 years later, a caricature of Guy Fawkes’ likeness is worn as the symbol of one of the most recognizable hacktivist groups in history, it speaks to a truth of Cybersecurity in general:
Be Aware and Proactive. To that end, here are some tips for good cybersecurity practice to help prevent an intruder from infiltrating your digital life:
- Never send any usernames, passwords, credit card information or any other personal information by email or by phone, especially if you are asked to do so! No reputable organization, company, or government agency will ever ask you to do this. A good rule of thumb is if they reached out to you first, it is a scam.
- Use your judgement with email. If something looks off, it probably is. If an email that appears to be from a known friend, colleague, or organization that is oddly misspelled or has a file attachment or link that you aren’t sure what it is, don’t open it. The safest bet is to delete the message.
- Always use reputable anti-virus and anti-malware software on your personal computers and devices.
- Always install the latest system updates for your computer or device. This hardens your Operating System against ever-emerging new security threats. While this is tempting to forego, it is essential for that very reason.
- Back up your files. There is no substitute for good old-fashioned backups. Better yet, create your backups on cloud-based storage. This gives you the resiliency of enterprise-grade data protection, the ability to retrieve files if they are lost, damaged, or otherwise compromised.
- If a website you use gets hacked, change your password immediately. If you happen to use that same password and username/email combination with other websites, you should change it there too and never reuse that old password. Best practice? Never use the same password among different websites.
Author: Adam Stroud, TetherView Implementation Engineer