There’s been a lot of talk lately about the threat of a cyber based attack against the US, and the possible targets. Exactly how much risk is there of your own home or business being attacked, or damaged in the fallout of a major cyber attack? To start with, if you are reading this post, you are at risk. If you depend upon the government or public infrastructure for anything at all, you are at risk. All things that require a computer to operate, and are connected in some way to other computers are at risk of being swallowed up in a cyber attack upon this, or any other nation.
The big picture shows that we, as individuals, can do little to prevent any such attacks from occurring. However, we can take steps to prevent our own little patch of land we call home from a direct hit. And this should be standard fare for many folks who have suffered from the abuses of targeted marketing and malicious software installed without our consent. Your machines, or systems can be protected by installing various brands of security software that can detect and prevent unwanted programming from being installed on your drives. Norton and MacAfee are probably the two best known brands. Constant scanning and updating will go a long way to prevention of these nasty little bugs we call viruses, spyware, malware and other choice designations that cannot be repeated in a family environment.
From what I’ve read, I gather that one of the easiest routes for these programs to take is through the marketing efforts of online advertisers. Especially the social networking sites. There are basically two types of online advertising, blanket and targeted. In blanket advertising you get an ad on your screen when you visit various sites that is pretty generic in nature. The ad has a link embedded in it so that if you click the ad, you’ll be taken to the advertisers website. Pretty simple and sounds harmless, and if that’s all you get out of it, no harm done. However, most marketing done today is targeted. This is dangerous from a security standpoint.
In the targeted advertising scheme, when you click onto an ad, the information is saved in your computer, and as you visit more and more sites, a record develops of your preferences, and ads are automatically placed that are geared towards these interests. Things like your age, zip code and other information you give out further develop this information into an accurate online profile that tells a lot about you to these advertising agencies. The trick here is that when you sign on to these social networking sites you must agree to their terms, and those terms usually include you giving them permission to store this information. These sites offer plenty of free stuff, but remember, nothing in this world, with the exception of Salvation, is free. And even then, your Salvation came with a price.
Free downloads of various programs and gaming material also include a lot of stuff you are usually unaware of. Things like automatically checking for updates can allow your computer to connect to the internet without you even being aware of it. There are a lot of ways that ill intended people can gain access to your computer and do so really nasty things to you, such a stealing your financial and personal information, and using that information to steal from you. Or maybe simply store pornographic material that you really don’t want. A recent case from out west relates how many innocent people had child pornography loaded onto their drives, and the perverts that put it there would access it and transfer it without the owners knowledge.
So, simply put, one of the prime aspects of survival is to always be aware of what is happening around you. And with computers, this can at times be difficult as much can go on without your being aware of it. I would suggest that you limit your attachment to social networking and gaming, and don’t click onto advertisements. If you want to visit an advertiser, close your browser after copying the link, and then reopen in safe mode and go directly to the website you wish to visit. The advertiser gets your visit, but the agency that placed the ad doesn’t get your traffic. And since they don’t get your traffic, that’s one less cookie you have to worry about.
Search engines work pretty much the same way, so no matter what, you will have to be on the lookout for unwanted cyber activity on your computer. But by limiting what you do, and having adequate protection in place you can lessen the risk to your own castle and personal life.
But on the infrastructure side of life, there is a real threat of major terrorism occurring. Current threats include the electrical grid, gas and oil delivery system, air traffic and more. There is little that we can do as individuals to prevent attacks of this magnitude from occurring, but we can prepare ourselves to survive after such an attack. For instance, is your home capable of being lived in without electricity? Do you have alternative sources of heating and cooking? How about communications? A battery radio and cell phones can help with that area of concern. These are just a few things to think about, and I have shared them in a simplistic way, but the threats are still there, none the less. At any given time we could be plunged into a world without power, and if that happens, how will you survive?