Information Desensitization – electronic hygiene and clean hands.

People don’t pay attention. They get sloppy. There are a mired of reasons and poor habits that lead to illness, disease and death. It is no different with your electronic life. Ever more today it is important to be mindful of your online and computer activities, and how electronically hygienic you are. How many times have you been told to wash your hands? Good physical hygiene has been accredited to extending human life, the same idea applies to your dealings online. It just seems the electronic hygiene alerts have overwhelmed us, our hands have become dry, red and chapped and we are ever increasingly tired of washing our electronic hands.

In the NIH article, “Emotional and Physiological Desensitization to Real-Life and Movie Violence” a parallel could be implied that over exposure to the media’s dire warnings has, or is, desensitizing us to the dangers of the internet at large.

The results point to diminished empathy and reduced emotional reactivity to violence as key aspects of desensitization to real-life violence, and more limited evidence of physiological desensitization to movie violence among those exposed to high levels of televised violence.

In an internet infancy we were exposed to virus’. Despite being warned about the hidden dangers in emails and file sharing, we saw and felt the sting and destruction first hand of simple early creations like the “blaster worm” that brought down entire networks. Today we have whole cities being held hostage due to poor electronic hygiene.

Security specialist live, eat and breath this information. CIO’s, CTO’s, Network Admins, DB managers and the sundry of IT professionals are all aware of the ramifications of compromises. Sam Macklin in a 2016 article “Don’t get desensitized to cybersecurity threats” makes the point that ” in enterprise scenarios, the stakes are significantly higher and the situation is a great deal more complex.” Yet … corporate leaders and end users at large are overwhelmed with security based information, often conflicting, and as to a proper course of action to take.

It seems that the past is so readily forgotten too. Just because there have been vaccines widely distributed that doesn’t mean you are absolutely safe from infection or exempt from disease. We “believe” we have advance practices to protect us, yet electronic security threats mutate and become ever more sophisticated. With this corporate move back to the cloud to save monies by consolidating services, we should not forget the “infamous cloud breaches” we have already experienced. If we do not learn from our past at large we are no safer and are only putting ourselves at greater risk. Security experts are already warning us of the ways cloud services (like AWS) can be hacked.

Enterprise solutions should incorporate, promote and support enduser security awareness and behavior. As an enduser you can be proactive in both your personal and professional life by taking care of your electronic life as you would your personal hygiene (there’s a lot of people that simply need to learn the proper way to wash their hands). So how should someone be electronically hygienic? You can start by doing the following:

  • Make frequent password updates and increase password complexity.
  • Preform system and software updates
  • Install adaptive antivirus and monitoring software
  • Understand social engineering
  • Know the general nature of trojans, viruses, spyware and malware.

I’ll try to summarize and break down each of these in upcoming blogs. Know that by implementing these ideas is a good start to improving your electronic hygiene and taking preventive measures against an infection or data compromise. While you are hygienically constantly exposed simple measures can protect you in a big way. Start with the above listed good personal practices (washing your electronic hands), get a quality antivirus as a preventive measure (exercise and vaccinations), have a professional electronic check up (general practitioner visit) and hope you don’t have to seek treatment (specialist or surgeon).

In closing, in the event you suspect you are compromised, the number one course of action you can take is simply to turn off your machine, disconnect it from the internet and contact an IT professional for further advice. As with all professional advice second opinions are good too. Know all your options and costs BEFORE seeking services.

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