Privacy and Security

This isn’t a post about the security of your belt, although an important aspect of privacy.  This is about electronic privacy and security of your personal and business information.

There are lots of great resources on things like proper password, multi-factor authentication, best kinds of wireless security.  These are important to understand, but our focus today  is on the WHY of information security.  Securing everything in your life isn’t practical so you have to make decisions about where to spend your time and money.  To do this you should understand what information is of most value to you – and the highest risk target for the bad guys.

First – let’s talk about the critical inventory.  This is anything that allows either direct use of your resources (like credit card numbers), or identity theft (like your tax return).  Take action on this items.  Make a list  – a column for the resource and a column for where you are exposed.  Something like this:

risks

You may not have these items, or may have significantly more.  The idea is to identify where important data resides, and who has access.   What you don’t see here is a very common risk.  Home computer and mobile devices.   For most of us, the Exposure looks more like this:

risks2

Looking at the common thread – we can see why home or business network security is critical to good information security.

Next – list an action plan.  Take the items from your Exposure column – and decide what you are willing to do to protect this information.  For example, Physical Theft is an extremely common risk for most people.  Protection might include making photocopies of the cards or documents along with phone numbers for cancellation.  If your credit card is stolen, how long would it take you to find the customer service number and your card number?  Do you want that stress?  Give the bad guys a chance for more ill gotten gains?   Other protection might be more digital.  Good home network security makes you less of an easy target – and is well worth the few dollars of investment.  Make sure your phone is secured with biometrics or a password.  There are security products for mobile devices as well – if you do online banking from your phone or other high value activities, consider using one of these products.  See our Resources page for more information.

So the action plan above protects your financial and identify resources.   What about the non-critical data?   Every day you give away vast amounts of information about yourself.  Using credit cards at gas stations allow your daily commute to be transparent to your bank – and anyone with whom they share it.  Facebook posts about your vacation plans or dining selections – all information you are trading for access to the “free” system.  Think about this information.  For most of us, we’re willing to give up some of this privacy in exchange for the “free” tools.  Just make sure it is a conscious decision.  Take the same inventory for everything you’re sharing, and think about the impact.

  • Kids names on web pages – do you want ANYONE with access to that page to call your child by name in public?
  • Vacation plans – when no one is home?
  • Work related posts – everyone to know your boss’s name?

All personal information that is very accessible.  Think about it.  Be clear and decisive in what you give away.

If you have any suggestions for topics or would like to as us a question, comment on this article, or contact us.

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