It’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and this week’s theme is Secure Development of IT Products. What does that mean to consumers? It means working to protect technology and personal data through better standards for product design, and a better awareness of the behaviors that lead to a data breach. With news this year of several different vulnerabilities in operating systems and the breaches of several major corporations that leaked millions of consumers’ personal information each, it stands to reason that better IT protocols need to be put in place.
Apple took some of the first steps this year with the unveiling of its iPhone 6, spending a significant amount of time leveraging the security enhancements of the device and its Cloud backup system, a system that was recently breached and resulted in the sharing of dozens of celebrities’ personal photos. Other phone manufacturers have joined Apple in stating they will be putting security measures in place that will also decrease outsiders’ access to content customers store on the devices or in the cloud, including government officials and agencies.
But there are some factors that make IT security difficult, and they’re largely a consumer problem. According to some reports, not only has mobile traffic increased exponentially, there is still an awareness issue on the part of many mobile device users who simply don’t know the methods by which content can be hacked and accessed. If consumers don’t know how hackers are retrieving their content, how do they know if they’re making it all too easy for the bad guys?
Unfortunately, some of those behaviors have seen a rapid increase, such as buying jailbroken phones or jailbreaking devices themselves, downloading suspicious apps that contain malware, making financial transactions on mobile devices with unsecured, unvetted vendors, and more.
One of the chief dangers to personal information is the abundance of features that mobile device manufacturers are working to incorporate, all in an effort to entice customers to their brands. In the frenzied race to offer the shiniest or most capable device on the market, the door is left wide open for vulnerabilities and flaws in the system that can compromise millions of users’ safety.
With NCSAM in its second week, the focus is on ensuring that all of us—from consumers to developers to manufacturers—maintain safe mobile and connected behaviors and ensure that all of the products we use and rely on are as secure as possible. While the device developers are obviously the first step in producing a secure product, it falls to the individual user to make sure that nothing sensitive is put out there for hackers to harvest. By working together on IT security, we can prevent many of the large scale breaches that have already plagued 2014.
If you found this information helpful, you may want to consider taking part in the Identity Theft Resource Center’s Anyone3 fundraising campaign. For more information or to donate please visit http://www.idtheftcenter.org/anyone-3.