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Lessons in security (or insecurity!) September 7, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, personal life, random thoughts.
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One of the things I have to say I love the most about having immersed myself for the past year in Vancouver’s tech scene is that I have learned a lot about network and internet security. I was a happy user of Microsoft MSN, and GTalk and GMail, until I started to talk to Vancouver’s geeks and they told me that Skype was probably the safest chat and voice talk system around. For reasons that I will not get into here, I will need some pointers as to how to ramp up internet safety.

Yes, I know that this means also reducing access to Flickr, maybe protecting my Twitter updates, etc. Probably remove my name from things here and there. I’m not terribly freaked out, but just think I need to be more careful.

But the most important thing is, I am grateful that my tekkie friends in Vancouver have taught me so much, because now I can pass this information and data on to my family and loved ones. Thanks, folks!

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1. Jonathon Narvey - September 8, 2008

Hey Raul. Sorry to hear you’ve gotten a bit of a web security shock. Sadly, we all have to balance our enthusiasm for connecting with others and the need to restrain ourselves from offering bait for ID thieves.

I’ve actually written on this topic a little bit on my blog recently in the post, Web Security in the Web 2.0 Age

There’s also a good blog post on your theme on Vaclav’s blog, Would You Give Me Your Password for a Candy?

The other side of not putting your information out there is not browsing websites that are going to infect your system. Unfortunately, the humble workhorse of Web 2.0, the WordPress blog (or any other blog for that matter) is a default vector of malware that cyber criminals can use indirectly to gain access to your info. If you accept comments or have a contact form, you’re vulnerable, or already hacked.

Until recently, most bloggers haven’t cared about whether they were already hacked or not. So long as you could sign in and post whenever you wanted, why would you care if unknown quantities of computers were infected by you. Besides, how many bloggers do we know who actually have the budget to contract IT consultants to clean up their code? I sure don’t have that kind of cash.

But now that Google is tagging all infected websites with the message “This site may harm your computer”, it’s a big problem for bloggers. Just imagine how fast your industriously-gathered web traffic would drop if Google tagged it?

So what’s the solution? Keep updating our WordPress platforms and crossing our fingers? I’m not really sure…


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