The furore around Facebook and also Twitter about the collecting of data by nefarious third parties. Including it is said foreign states (i.e they mean Russia of course). It seems from a TV appearance by Mr Zuckerberg on the news channels that there is a cyber war going on. No, really? Where did he get that idea? Any computer user by now knows that computers are not safe and that whatever is put on, text, pictures or whatever else can be seen by every Tom, Di*k and Harry around the world, if they would wish to do so.
It worries me that the CEO of a massive company appears to be as dull and silly as that. And he is not on his own either. Money talks and money talks even louder with companies engaged in the cyber industry. The black truth is a very simple one. You start-up your computer and basically you say – Yoo-hoo here I am, come and get me...’ . Fortunately most of us are just not interesting enough to bother with but tell that to the average 16 year old who is trying his or her luck? What can us hicks do about it? Well, keep as safe as possible. You can get away from Windows for a start. If you are too lazy or not bothered then use the best anti-virus you can find and pay for a VPN service. Better, use any Linux flavour you like – Mint seems the easiest for those who are used to Windows. Stay away from Facebook altogether, if you want to speak to friends use the phone! Don’t put your opinions on Twitter, set up your own blog, like this one using good sound software.
The facts are that computers operate with a standard set of rules. They use gateways, ports, that are well known. There are software programs such as Wireshark that can monitor any computer system to look for open ports. Cracker software easily available to anyone will find 75% of passwords within a minute. Use a good password – not your cat’s name. Better use a sentence of at least 12 words with every word separated by a hyphen or similar character. Change that particular character once a month or so. This will thwart the dictionary attacks. If you bank via the Internet ensure you or the bank use two-factor identification. That means a password and another such as three numbers from a sequence only you and the bank know. These numbers will change every time you contact the website.
So, do I care about some Russian looking at my opinions? No, Vlad the Impaler is welcome. As long as he stays in Siberia he can do whatever he likes.
Lastly, remember this - don’t think you will be 100% safe on the Internet, it is not possible. As even the darknet users have found out. You can be found in the end. Although with a secretive country such as Russia when the state is possibly involved as well it will be difficult to exact justice.
It is time to rethink our approach to use of the Web. Great tool though it is.