Friday, October 23, 2009

Making trails through Online Privacy and Security

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."
Helen Keller (1880-1968)

Online security is something I find myself wrestling with quite a bit lately, having recently got myself "connected" at home, so this exercise is personally very timely. We can all too quickly and easily overlook it, or simply take it for granted, believing our electronic toys are as secure as the locks and bolts on our doors and windows. After all, who would want to get inside these little boxes and snoop - or steal - their contents? We still don't perceive these cyber-thieves to be as dangerous as the commonplace burglar, when potentially there is no end to the mischief that could be caused should the snoop happen to get inside this box. The more I've been exploring various options recently, the less I feel I know, and trust, about the whole business of cyber-security. Once we go online, it's so, so easy to get lost in this other-world, and leave behind our cautionary instincts - and naively leave lots of little trails to follow in the process. And there are so many trails to tempt us all into following - all you have to do is "click".

The resources given for this exercise were very useful, and certainly worth sharing with friends, family and patrons. The information on the McAfee and Netsafe sites was well put together, but I couldn't help thinking much of it was good old common sense - which is perhaps an instinct being eroded by so much time being spent in an online world? While you can never be completely "safe", you can certainly minimise the risk.

I'm intrigued by keepass and password generator - they certainly would have been useful for 23 Things, and I will certainly keep them in mind should I find passwords, usernames, etc getting out of control. However, before we came to rely on this electronic access as part of our daily lives, how did we keep track of our personal matters? We took care to keep control of such things, so why do we drop our guard so much with regard to electronic "gate-keeping"? Some patrons may be happy to know about them, but it is yet another thing to keep track of.

So, just like the wolves in the western United States who, try as they might can't avoid the danger of the guns which are once again sadly being trained on them, so must we be alert to the dangers abounding in this "connected" and exposed world. We can't completely close the shutters, nor let our guard down, but we can still explore in a safe way if we stay aware and pay attention to the signs around us - and keep that security up-to-date.