It was after I watched The Net that I first feared identity theft and even considered it to be a reality. (It was mainly a five minute afterthought that quickly passed.) It wasn’t until years later that I would REALLY be introduced to the ramifications and possibilities of this actually happening. See, I work with security companies which didn’t use to address issues that affected me on a personal level. Sure the leading threats that had the industry on constant alert, MyDoom and SoBig for example, were a concern for me but on the whole, IT security was still at arm’s length for me.
I remember the IT administrator where I worked was busy securing our network and making sure we had the appropriate anti-virus software installed to protect against attacks, but I personally wasn’t fazed by them beyond my connection to my clients. Today, the security landscape has changed dramatically and I’m brought back to feelings I had just after my Sandra Bullock movie marathon.
Nowadays, security isn’t just about deleting a strange attachment, or downloading the latest Microsoft patch. Hackers that used to target a large number of big corporations have realized they can get “more bang for their buck” by scaling down and exploiting focused vulnerabilities on a few folks rather then a mass mailing. A Reuter’s article points out the recent breach in credit card fraud and discusses the shift in hacker’s strategy – aim smaller to achieve greater. What I personally do – where I search, how I pay my bills, what file sharing programs I use, what social networking groups I belong to and my instant message habits have a direct effect on the safety of my identity and my personal information.
But, what’s more… what my colleagues do has a direct affect on me as well. Ultimately, my co-worker could take his laptop home, do some online shopping, pay a few bills, perhaps buy a movie ticket, all while a piece of malicious software is scanning online activity and making copies of personal information. Then, without any knowledge that a stealthy bug has been downloaded, my co-worker could plug back into the network and cause instant propagation of the security breach across the network, without anyone finding out about it.
Since I can’t live in fear of some credit card hack getting a hold of my information or a computer guru dying to become an Italian/ German, female, all I can do is educate myself on security measures and hope that my colleagues do the same.
It’s a scary market, but it’s an exciting space for a communications consultant – it’s always changing and the market is constantly heating up.
- Stephanie Luttringhaus