Well Easter is upon us and alongside all the chocolaty treats many of you will be planning to head off to sunnier climes for the duration of the break. You can leave all your worries at home, forget about the lawns, ignore all your emails, but can you actually forget about cyber security? The government of Canada is recommending that you don’t. Their website, which I stumbled across this week has a highly useful guide regarding ‘Cyber Security While Travelling’ and if you are caught up in an airport departure lounge and have a few mins to spare you might want to glance though its recommendations.
For example would you use a public computer? Perhaps not if you were to think that it was infected with a key-logger that will record the exact string of characters that you enter as you double check your social media accounts one last time before take off. Might not be a good idea either to plug in a USB stick to these public computers either – just in case! They also advise about ensuring that your smartphone is as secure as possible. Check that Bluetooth is secured and you have set your device to auto-delete all your information should it be stolen and somebody attempts to access it – assuming you have set up a protective pin code. All of this sounds relatively rudimentary, but their advice continues and covers off topics regarding International laws and regulations on digital information. For example, If you access your webmail in another country, do you know whether its government is watching you? Or Is the risqué novel that you saved on your e-reader or iPad considered pornographic in the country you are visiting? There is much more to being cyber aware when travelling than I’m sure many of us had considered.
Personal data is a new commodity, both legally and illegally. If we were to stop and think about it for a second it always has been, yet it’s value has soared and its quantity grown exponentially as it became digital. So much so that as the InfoWorld website stated this week, there is a gold rush on selling consumers’ personal data. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US are advancing rules to safeguard online personal info yet InfoWorld believe that these changes will do little to defend consumers’ privacy from the increasingly ubiquitous surveillance of the digital age. They quote security expert Bruce Schneier, who said, ”Surveillance is the business model of the Internet. We build systems that spy on people in exchange for services. Corporations call it marketing. Data is currency online, and consumers are willing to hand it over in exchange for free or convenience”. So often in the digital world the law attempts to catch up with the technology and how it’s used, yet technology moves fast and we all know that the law is not as responsive or agile.
I am personally fascinated by ‘connected cars’. It’s a technology that I have personally thought for years was a no brainer. I recall over a decade ago wondering why I couldn’t hook up my car to my home WiFi network and sync data with it. Well I need wait no longer, they are here, but sadly they come with increasing levels of security concerns. Stories of cars being hacked and being remotely taken over have been swirling around for a while and The Independent discussed it again this week. They explain how over the past year researchers have proven it is possible to develop methods of targeting the active cellular wireless and WiFi hotspots in vehicles. They found that while attacks over WiFi were limited to a distance less than 100 feet from the car, they were able to achieve engine shutdown, disable brakes and manipulate steering when cellular connection was made. These warnings are valid and car manufacturers really need to attack this issue head on. After all when we are all going on holiday and pick up a rental car the last thing we want to be worrying about is cyber security! Trying to find the hotel is difficult enough.
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