What is the best way to deal with hackers if you feel they are a threat to your family and community? by Tony Garcia
Answer by Tony Garcia:
When asked by a curious reporter why he kept robbing banks, “Slick” Willie Sutton responded curtly: “Because that’s where the money is.”(1) Exploiting weaknesses in security, Sutton and other Depression-Era bank robbers achieved infamy by targeting the very institutions who, as perceived by many Americans, were the architects of the financial collapse.
Hackers remind me of these marauders. They achieve notoriety by exploiting weaknesses in cyber security and human frailty, i.e., by targeting people who have committed their entire lives—personal data—to the internet. Hollywood then glamorizes their exploits, ameliorating the devastating economic and emotional pain these hoodlums inflict upon their victims by focusing on the sophistication of the perpetrators’ methods.
An individual alone is powerless against the strategic, persistent intrusions conducted by organized crime and state-sponsored hackers. The simple truth is every publicized data breach only serves to underscore how far private industry and the government lag behind the technical expertise of these cyber criminals.
These data breaches also reveal one other factor: a lack of peer review necessary to identify and close the holes and backdoors left open by software developers. The exigency to develop new software and bring it to market (read: profits) can preclude a long, methodical, intense scrutiny of the software by one’s peers in favor of one far more expedient. Thus one sees the continual stream of software updates. Companies first attempt to explain them away as improvements designed to increase the efficacy of the application. But a closer examination of the accompanying technical notes reveals the security risks these updates are intended to ameliorate.
Your role as an individual combatant in this tech war is limited.
- You can keep your software—your favorite applications, the web browser—patched with the latest security updates, a daily task;
- Install security software on your personal computing device;
- Change your password.
I could suggest that one limit one’s interactions over the internet but that genie is already out of the bottle. For too many people the internet is akin to television in its golden age; it is an addiction, changing one’s behavior to suit the technology.
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of law enforcement and those companies and agencies who collect and maintain our personal data to insure its security. Vigilance, stricter peer review of software programs and more severe criminal penalties are the trident necessary to thwart cyber criminals.