Have you been pwned?
Do you even know what that event means?
If you don’t, you’re not alone. It’s a term commonly used in gaming when you defeat your opponent and want to taunt them. It’s also used when your online accounts and personal information have been hacked or compromised.
If you don’t know how that happens or how to prevent it, you’re not alone in that either.
“The good news is Maritimers are no worse off than the rest of the world. The bad news is the rest of the world generally doesn’t have a clue what’s going on and how bad things are. I say that without hyperbole,” says David Shipley, cybersecurity expert based in New Brunswick and CEO of Beauceron Security.
“The Internet is fundamentally not designed to be doing what we’re doing on it today and everything you see from McDonald’s job bank breaches to the Bangladesh Bank national heist, are the consequences of our failure to plan.”
Today, more and more of our devices are connected to the internet, our TV’s, home security systems, even our lights. Though this has enhanced our lives by making things more convenient, it also exposes us to threats many haven’t even thought of. Shipley says with a lot of new tech devices, people are taking their personal security for granted.
“We’re increasingly bringing devices into our homes and we’re not paying attention to the consequences of those devices. Case in point, the number of people who have Samsung smart TV’s and other smart devices that have voice activated command features,” he says. “And what a lot of people fail to realize is that in the terms of service, it clearly indicates that the microphone is always on and that if you don’t want to have any sensitive information potentially exposed or recorded by the device, don’t have sensitive conversations in front of your TV.”
Another common threat is people dragging their feet when it comes to updating their devices with the latest software when it becomes available. Though those constant notifications from Apple are annoying, Shipley says it’s crucial to stay on top of new updates.
“The last iOS update, 10.3, contained 19 patches for 19 remote code execution vulnerabilities. These are the most serious kinds of vulnerabilities where just browsing a website with an unpatched iPhone could cause someone to be able to take control and take your information. Most people gloss over those notes and get around to the update when they have time.”
Then there’s the issue of password security. With so many different social media and subscription services to log into, many people use the same or similar passwords for all of them. This isn’t a good idea since it opens you up to some scary security breaches.
“There are absolutely forums where people’s usernames and passwords are bought and sold,” Shipley says.
“The reality is your information can get popped in any number of organizations and they may or may not disclose that breach. You absolutely have to have a unique, random password for every online service you use, because you don’t know which one is going to be popped.”