Confessions of an IT Professional – Part 1

This post is rated E for everyone.

These aren’t deep, dark secrets–but they are confessions in two senses:  1) admission and acknowledgement and 2) a statement one’s principles.  I have to confess that most of what we’re doing today to protect ourselves from modern Internet threats is insufficient.  Before you bail on me banging the ‘security drum’ again, stick with me a little bit longer and catch my main idea:  we’ve got to do more than just consume IT and learn how to adequately protect ourselves from modern Internet threats.  Don’t wait until you get mugged in an Internet back alley before taking proactive responsibility for technology that enables our lives and businesses!

Modern Internet threats are motivated by a lot of different things.  It’s a common thought that “malicious actors” (aka the bad guys) wanted to steal our data for its value, like identity theft or credit card numbers.  These data are still valuable targets but the focus has shifted.  Malicious actors are using another powerful motivator for digital crime:  Its not only about how valuable your data is to them.  The more valuable question is, how valuable is your data to you?

I’ve been around Information Technology for a little while.  When we talk about “cybersecurity”, we’re often talking about one or more of these ingredients:

  • User ID & password
  • Antivirus
  • File backup
  • Firewall
  • Antispam or e-mail filters
  • One time setup & forget it

My first confession: this is not enough to protect us from the threats of a modern day Internet.  A lot has changed in the world to make our traditional security measures less effective.  A few examples are Next Generation or UTM firewalls, new classes of malicious software (not just viruses anymore), email attacks through use of harmful web links or file attachments, evolution of system image backups and multi factor authentication–just to name a few.   Many of you may not identify all of the these examples.  And that’s why I need to confess more to you.

Its easy to use technology out of the box or consume the free online service.  But these things come with a price.  We must start thinking about approaching technology like we do our homes, cars or health.  It can seem like a significant burden to educate ourselves about these things but that’s part of the “total cost of ownership” of making technology an enabler for so many things.  It has been elevated to a utility that many of us cannot function without.  We’ve built it into our lives and we’re greatly inconvenienced or even disabled when it doesn’t function right.

In future posts, I want to deal with each of these topics briefly as it relates to home and business users.  Technology has never been a bigger part of our lives and the risks to our security, privacy and functionality are equally as big.

Photo by Shalone Cason on Unsplash

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