Everyone’s needed to improve online ecosystem
“Cyber threats” are a bigger danger to this country than terrorism — at least that’s what John Clapper, director of national intelligence, told the U.S. Senate in March. The internet is more like an interconnected system than an individual computer. However, most users (and even some vendors) see the internet as only a keyboard, hard drive and monitor. There are a number of steps that everyone involved with the internet—manufacturers, government, and consumers–can take to make it safer from cyberthreats:
• Consumers—when buying a computer or portable device, they should make sure they also get a basic understanding of its operating system. The operating system is the main gateway to the internet; all applications, settings and plug-ins work through it. Once proper security settings are set up (including but not limited to antivirus and other protective software), then users can be more assured that they are preventing problems.
• Government or other organizations—help users get the knowledge they need to understand different operating systems (say, between Apple’s OS and Microsoft). Schools or tutorials could be created to help consumers understand their computers, and even provide informal licensing or training akin to a driving school or exam.
• Internet providers—be stronger about identifying the source of malicious events. This may include warnings to offending consumers, and possible disconnections from the internet for repeat offenders.
• Vendors and manufacturers—when designing smartphone apps, look at security measures as well as ease of use. Apps are made with tradeoffs in mind. It they’re too secure, they won’t work with everybody. But interactions between app designers and OS vendors could yield better results. In addition, the more people are aware of security threats, the greater the economic incentive for antivirus/antispam vendors to take the time needed to release more robust products.
• Insurance—not many people or organizations have cyberinsurance today, but it could play a valuable part in the ecosystem of the internet. Attackers will always be there. But if there’s no way to know about an attack, then insurance can come in and protect against what should be unusual risks.
Source: University of Southern California
Photo: Wikispaces/Penn State University
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