Four things I do to protect myself from cybercrime

To most of us the Internet is a great communication device and without it we would have to resort to other systems, like talking.   The Internet is the first product ever that has been embraced by the world that brings down national borders.

It crosses all levels of society and it makes any business competitive world wide.   I can do business with a legitimate business person in any country in the world with the only barrier being language.   I can buy, sell or trade anything including highly illegal products, for my country, with anyone anywhere.

To the people legally buying and selling products and services this is brilliant.  The downside is that cybercrime and the cyber criminals have made the Internet similar to living in the worst ghetto in the most underdeveloped country in the world.

Being an ex sailor, I have been in some dangerous places when I have gone ashore in countries all of the world, I have been mugged, attacked and /or hospitalised a number of times.   Compared to the world of cybercrime this is mild.   In cyber space and the world of the internet and www I can have my identity, all my money and my Intellectual property stolen and either I would not realise it or I can do very little about it.

Instead of being in the position where I am playing catch up with the criminals I think that prevention is a better way of controlling my destiny.

How do I protect myself from cybercrime on the Internet?

I use complicated password for all access to my information.

I make sure that all access to sites is controlled by my complicated password routine.   In addition to this I have an individual domain (rwsmith.com.au) which has a hosted email service.   I create email aliases on this account to reflect the site that I am giving information.   I.e. Www.newsweek.com would have a username of newsweek@rwsmith.com.au and a complicated password.

To gain access to this account you will have to know both of these components.   Another reason that I do this is, I can track where the address is going.   I give my address to Newsweek, I receive emails from Newsweek (that is the only reason that they want your address) and after I time I start to receive spam emails from newscandy.com or moron.net.   I know that either Newsweek has been compromised or they have sold my address.   I now remove my alias and no more spam.

I never reveal more of my information than is necessary

A form on the Internet is a very powerful piece of technology.   On one page you can sell your soul and you would not know you had done it.   There are two principles that I follow.   On a first time access they will only get my first name and my email address (see above) if they want more information I had better want something bad or it is important.

I believe in trust, if I don’t trust them then I will make sure they have as little information about me as I can get away with.   Once they build trust then the more information I will part with.   I trust PayPal and it is the only method of payment that I entertain on the Internet.   If they do not have PayPal I will find a similar product from someone who does.

I only access my bank accounts from a clean PC / tablet

A clean computer / tablet is my computer.   I know where it has been, I know what sites it has been to and I know that no one else has used it to go to sites where they should not have go to.

This causes friction at home when the wife wants to look at something on the www from my laptop.   I resolved the friction by buying her a tablet.

I use good netiquette

This covers all of my idiosyncrasies.   I like to make sure that I practice what I preach.   I like to make sure that I have the following in place

  • Keep my computer clean – see above
  • Run a good end point protection system – I use Kaspersky because it does everything that I want to have protected and a little more.   It is also less of a resource intensive system than others.
  • surf the www leaving as little trace as possible.
  • SPAM – I am very careful with all email.   I do not click on links that I find in email.   If I want to follow a link I check it’s authenticity in the browser window.

These solutions work for me, they may work for you as well.   I am no way paranoid, OK slightly paranoid about getting an information footprint on the Internet.   Yes I have a profile for things like Facebook, LinkedIn, my blog and twitter but most of it is based on what I want people to know about me.   Even in a social engineering situation the information that is available would not allow people to understand me or gain in depth information about me.   I like it that way.

Roger Smith, is an educator. Teaching students at ADFA (UNSW) and showing them how vulnerable they are to cybercrime.

He is also CEO at R & I ICT Consulting Services Pty Ltd, an Amazon #1 author on Cybercrime and founder of the SME Security Framework. He is a Consultant who specialises in inexpensive and highly effective security strategies for small and medium businesses and not for profit organisations.

He has developed and authored the SME Security Framework and the Security Policy Training Course which are considered to be the definitive guides to helping SME's protect their organisation using the principles of Technology, Management, Adaptability and Compliance.

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