You’ve seen it, read it, heard it so many times you’ve blocked it out … routine, mundane. . . but instinctively you take the necessary precautions. And the idiots who think they can beat the doors for gosh sakes . . . some make it, most don’t… when will they learn. Even though, I suspect the next time you hear this spoken over the intercom in the Underground, or read the warning label on the inside of the carriage you’ll take just that extra second to really make sure everything is clear of the doors. “Why?”, you ask. “Because you’ve just read this!” No different than the many times you’ve looked at your watch, and then someone else asks you what time it is; you can’t remember, so you look again.
Unremarkably, the same applies when it comes to being more safe online. This past year you bought a brand new state of the art, 2g of RAM, 600g hard drive that will hold more stuff than you or I could ever fill up in a lifetime. It’s loaded with free anti-spam, anti-virus software and everything is going very well, so well in fact that you don’t update your software (Windows Vista has ‘updates’ turned on by default, so unless you mess with it, you’re okay ), run a periodic anti-malware scan, and the wireless is working fine so need to check that. You’ve read about the Government’s GetSafeOnline.org campaign ( www.GetSafeOnline.org ) that e-Bay, Microsoft, HSBC, Home office, SOCA, and others participate in, you’ve seen the constant news articles about loss or theft of data from the largest of companies and government agencies (and if you’re a victim of HMRC ‘datagate’, you have every right to be angry) but hey, you’ve not been affected . . . why do anything. Victims of online crime… not me, happens only to those people who go to the ‘wrong sites’ . . .who tried to make it thru the doors for gosh sakes, they should have known better.
Not so fast Mr ItAin’tGonnaHappenToMe. That ‘other person’ is going to be you if you don’t take a few moments to make sure your operating system and software are up to date, that your firewall is turned on (both are already done for you if you are operating Windows Vista) your anti-spam and anti-virus software are installed and updated (don’t forget to renew your subscription to the anti-malware software if it is about to expire). Organized criminals are ‘green’, ‘socially conscious agnostics’, they want what is best for you – NOT!! Just like machines, THEY DON’T CARE who you are, where you grew up, what kind of accent you have, whether you’re beautiful (or like me, a face made for radio); they operate without regard to your sex or religious affiliations – I call them “THE EQUALIZERS”. They want what is yours – from your bank account, your identity, or even a bit of your bandwidth – oh yes, they can quite happily use your computer while you do and you may not ever know.
As we approach the Holidays, don’t let the Grinch of Christmas Past ruin your holidays online. Possibly, ‘just because you read this’, you will take a moment and run the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool , will visit www.GetSafeOnline.org , or possibly even give the most important cyber gift of all – a trip to the wild side, www.WindowsMarketplace.com (click on Security Downloads) for free anti-malware. It will take you a few minutes; but a few minutes now might just save you months of hassle down the road. Do you really want to be calling your credit card companies, bank, credit agency, DVLA, DWP, on New Years Eve. Or worse, worry whether someone will be showing up at your doorstep because you couldn’t be bothered to spend a measly 10 minutes with your kids to talk to them about social networking sites (oh yea, they just told their friends on their Facebook site when you were going to be away). . . and you didn’t tell them how to prevent outsiders from accessing their pages. Nor did you tell them in no uncertain terms that even when they close their site everything they put on the Internet IS THERE FOREVER. Oh yes, some make it thru the doors, most don’t . . .when will THEY learn.
I wish you a very happy holiday season – and a safe online journey.
Edward P Gibson
Chief Security Advisor
Printed here with permission from Ed Gibson and Microsoft.