What are your risks in this era of surveillance, hacking and sloppy software coding? It depends. So what precautions should you be taking? Same answer: it depends.

That’s a pretty unsatisfying bit of advice, isn’t it? Yet it’s a core truth of digital security. You should be concerned, very concerned, but in order to make decisions about your own security measures you should first figure out which threats you’re likely to face.

Over the next several months I’ll be posting a number of pieces here about how you can do a better job of protecting your privacy and staying secure. Understanding what’s at risk – and that not all threats are equally daunting – is a key to how you should respond.

Here’s an example: every summer, thousands of computer hackers and security experts flock to a sweltering Las Vegas. They assemble at two of the most important annual conferences in the field, DEF CON and Black Hat, where they compare notes about their increasingly complex and worrisome fields.

DEF CON bills itself as the largest hacker gathering in the world. I’ve attended several times as a member of the press. Before I departed for Las Vegas last week, the organizers sent me a pre-conference email with a long list of cautionary measures I, as a journalist, should take before arriving, during the gathering and after I get home. It’s a sobering document. Here are several of the many useful suggestions (I’ll be posting the entire thing on my personal blog soon):

Beware of public Wi-Fi. Do not use any wireless networks at DEF CON or the airport unless you want to be hacked aggressively.

Conferences are a whirlwind of information and events so be sure to keep all of your accounts secure and within your control. Create and use a password strategy to ensure that confidential emails containing breaking news are not compromised. A few tips to creating your strategy:
– Use a pattern on the keyword instead of words from the dictionary.
– Rotate this pattern regularly. Change your passwords after each conference.
– Use a unique password for each important account.
– Be careful when selecting password hints or security questions as the answers can often be easily guessed using information you’ve posted to social sites.
– Do not send passwords in clear text.
– Change your passwords before you leave and as soon as you get home.

Shield RFIDs. Keep your RFID credit cards, keys and IDs at home or in a special wallet. They can be legally scanned from over 200ft away.

Leave important data and devices at home. The safest way to protect your data and devices is to leave them at home. Assume all information and devices you bring to the event may be compromised. Many attendees bring a burner laptop and phone just for this event. If you delete data from your devices, make sure to shred the data so it really is gone. You could also bring a paper and pen. There are no known remote access attacks for this measure.

I don’t want to suggest that you need to take all of these precautions at all times – unless you are worried, and have good reason to worry, that you are a specific target of highly trained surveillance experts and/or hackers. You probably aren’t on a routine basis.

Read the Full Article by Dan Gillmor over the the Guardian.co.uk



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