Cyber Security – Is it possible?
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The IT department at The Dunham Group can pretty much secure anything that you have in your offices, including servers, desktops, mobile devices, laptops, security systems and more. However, there are some things that even our IT department cannot do. The real issue today is the sensitive information about you personally and about your organization, which is stored on-line and in the cloud, by other organizations over which you have no control.
Let’s start with the government*. You and I do not know how much access the government has to our information. Some of that access is important for national security and I’m pretty sure some of it is a flagrant violation of our privacy. We do know that the US government has much more power over the internet and over our personal information than any of us could possibly be comfortable with. If they choose, they can access your cellular phone, your WiFi signal, your wirelessly connected laptop, your cell phone conversations, your email, your email address books – and much more. If they want to know anything about you…they have the ability to get the information. The Canadian Government has many of these same capabilities.
Due to the legal ability of the US government to get any information that they want (Patriot Act), the Dunham Group has not hosted any of our websites on American servers. All of our hosting is on Canadian soil! We only host on premium servers in highly secure locations in an effort to safeguard the security of our client websites and the data contained in them.
A second area of concern are the hackers that consistently try to gain access to information. Let’s face it, there is no perfect security out there. On Black Friday (the day after US thanksgiving), the Target Servers where hacked. If you shopped at Target between the middle of November and the middle of December, there is a good chance that your credit card is compromised. You should be calling your credit card company immediately for a new number. Even PIN numbers were obtained in this breach of security with Target! Target is consequently on the hook for 3.6 billion dollars in fines. A worse scenario was Yahoo being compromised and passwords were stolen.
When you think about organizations like Yahoo and Target – we seem quite helpless in the face of this onslaught. Nothing is going to stop these attacks – so be prepared for more in the future.
On a personal level, it is very important to constantly track your credit cards and bank accounts. Anything at all that, about which you are suspicious should be reported. It may be the tip of an iceberg.
Keep track of all your credit card numbers, bank numbers and associated phone numbers. There are several tracking programs (digital wallets) that can assist you with these numbers. However, even a paper copy of this information should be kept securely somewhere where it can’t easily be found. Your passwords should be changed regularly. Of course we know this is difficult, but it is possible to create a system of change for yourself where by there is a consistent change you make to every password…perhaps by advancing the 3rd character of the password. So a very simple example would be, if you password is “limited” then the new one would be “linited”. Complex passwords using letters, numbers etc are very helpful.
On a company level, The Dunham Group is hard at work ensuring the security of your website. Our code is written to the highest standard, ensuring the best security possible. Our IT department has several local security solutions for you which involve both hardware and software. We carefully watch what the “hackers” are doing and continue to develop our ideas which can help to keep us ahead of the these people.
As the world becomes more IP driven we will see that everything that we own will have an IP address. Even your refrigerator will have such an address (and many do now). That means a hacker can theoretically defrost your freezer and ruin all of its contents. They can compromise your security system, your thermostat, hotwater system and more. We are working on systems that will cover all of that.
If you are concerned about your office (small to large) or your home IT security give us a call and we’ll happily talk with you about your needs and make appropriate suggestions.
* Please note this article is not about whether the Government of Canada or the United States of American is right or wrong in its ability to gather pretty much any information that it wants. This would be a discussion dealing with National Security.