Article on Security tips. Very relevant given impending changes to the Privacy Act

February 19, 2014 |

In Security 101: Top tech tips to stay safe the Age sets out in broad overview some security tips taken from the Tech Leader’s Forum.  As a starting point it is not a bad article. But it is only a start.  Organisations need to be more sophisticated and nuanced in their data management, depending on the type of material they collect and hold and the size of the organisation.

It provides:

Be smart with your passwords and think beyond your PC, security experts advise.

Security is one of the main themes at this week’s Tech Leaders forum on the Gold Coast, as it tends to be every year. Of course sometimes the pitches from anti-virus vendors can have a whiff of scare tactics about them. To cut through the hype I asked several vendors for their top three practical tech tips – apart from “buy our software” – to help people stay safe online. 

By “update everything”, McKinnon and the guys from BitDefender mean take a holistic approach to security, thinking beyond the desktop to consider security options for your mobile devices. 

AVG’s Australian security advisor, Michael McKinnon:

1. Update everything
2. Don’t reuse passwords
3. Back up everything


Trend Micro’s consumer director for Australia and New Zealand, Tim Falinski:

1. Protect all your devices
2. Don’t reuse passwords
3. Protect all of your digital life

BitDefender’s senior threat analyst Bogdan Botezatu and head of cloud architecture Alex Novac:

1. Run a security solution and make sure it’s kept up to date, along with your other third-party software
2. Be mindful of what the internet is throwing at you and what you’re throwing at the internet
3. Don’t install things you don’t really need, particular unnecessary browser add-ons and toolbars

There’s some variation in those lists but also a few common themes. By “update everything”, McKinnon and the guys from BitDefender mean take a holistic approach to security, thinking beyond the desktop to consider security options for your mobile devices. Ensure you update all the third-party desktop and mobile apps you rely on, as well as installing the latest patches for your operating system and security software. Most software updates include a security aspect and installing them gives you the best protection against new attacks.

BitDefender’s point about keeping your browser add-ons to a minimum also fits in here. This helps your computer run more smoothly and reduces your potential vulnerabilities. Uninvited toolbars have a habit of sneaking onto computers because people don’t pay enough attention to what’s ticked by default when they install new software. Being a little more mindful of what the internet is throwing at you, rather than blindly clicking yes to everything, is an important security skill to develop.

“Don’t reuse passwords” is another common theme here, although they acknowledge that it’s not that simple. You need to develop a way to manage complicated passwords. For some people it might be a method for generating complicated passwords which are easy to remember but hard to guess, such as using the first letters of each word in a lyric or phrase. For other people it might be turning to password management software, either built into the security software or using third-party services such as 1Password or LastPass.

“Protect all of your digital life” means thinking beyond your devices to consider the services you use. Be mindful of what you’re throwing at the internet and think twice before uploading information you wouldn’t want the world to see. Also take the time to understand the privacy settings on services such as Facebook and regularly look over them to see if options or default settings have changed. 

I think these lists are a good starting point. What are the top security tips that get you safely through the day?


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