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Posts Tagged ‘hacking’

Life can’t be hacked

In Business, Health, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on July 3, 2017 at 11:48 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook his annoyance at the term, “hacking,” and how overused it is in society today. No, we’re not talking about Russian infiltration into American elections. No, in this case, the word “hack,” refers to a way around the hard work required to get from point A to point B, a cheat or shortcut, if you will.

As you might be aware, the Internet is loaded with “experts,” self-proclaimed gurus who will tell you the quickest ways to anything as long as you subscribe to their YouTube channel or buy their self-published book. They use content marketing to generate interest by publishing articles, videos and infographics with titles like, “10 Hacks To House Flipping,” or “Hacking The Self Employment Life,” or other such nonsense.

The primary goal here is for the author to set his or herself up as the “expert” by creating tons of content and luring in subscribers. Once they’ve got you in their marketing list, you will be inundated with messages trying to convince you that you can’t function without their dime-store psychobabble or unqualified business advice.

Don’t misunderstand, there are plenty of legitimate content marketers out there who have great and useful information to share. But those who are reputable might offer tips to get you where you want to be, but generally, never offer any sort of shortcut. The only thing that will see you from start to success is hard work, consistency, and persistence.

There is just no such thing as a hack to anything worthwhile. You have to put in the time, make the effort, learn the steps and execute them with intent. That’s the only way you’ll ever achieve your goals.

When these so-called experts or motivational people get up on a stage and start telling everyone how to live their lives it infuriates me. People are smart. They need guidance, not the ravings of someone trying to sell a book or something.

The only skill most of these people have is in getting someone who’s a little lost in life to cough up buckets of cash for junk advice, books, videos or whatever. At this point, someone who reads my work regularly is probably saying, “Wait, don’t you offer advice and tips about things?” Yes, I do, but there is a major difference – credibility.

I only offer advice and tips on subjects with which I have experience and, usually, in a logical and objective way. I also generally explain in those kinds of pieces that I’m giving you an account of my own experience or that of someone I know directly who can speak on it with authority.

I will also never try to get you to buy a book or subscribe to a mailing list or other such tactics. Although I appreciate that you’ve purchased the newspaper you may be reading this in, but it’s not necessary. My columns are freely available online in most areas where I’m published.

If I do want you to respond to some business opportunity, I’ll say exactly that. It won’t be shrouded in some kind of self-help gimmick. I will always contend that people are smarter and more resourceful than they give themselves credit. That goes for personal and professional issues alike.

If you just sit down and analyze whatever situation you’re coping with as objectively as you can, get advice from trusted friends or family, and then act accordingly you’ll do just fine. Things might not always turn out as you hope, but we all do the best that we can.

You will never need a “hack” to do something worthwhile. It will never work even if there is some shortcut available to you. Everything we do of substance requires patience and effort, something many people shy away from in a modern society where instant gratification rules the day.

So the next time you see a self-help post or article with the word, “hack” in it, and it’s not about a computer problem, think twice before following the lead of the author. Is it useful information or just a gateway to a shopping cart?

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com

 

 

Hackers: The gangsters of the digital age.

In Business, Crime, Economy, News Media, Opinion, Uncategorized on August 24, 2015 at 10:49 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGORecently, after watching a news story on the subject, my father, who recently turned 82 years old, asked me about what “hacking” was and why someone would do it. I struggled for a minute to explain it in terms he would understand while still giving him a rudimentary understanding of the technology.

It reminded me of a similar conversation I had with my great aunt in 1999, shortly before the Y2K turnover. At 91, she lived a fairly isolated existence in the Ohio Appalachian foothills and certainly not computer literate. But she was deeply concerned about the Y2K computer bug causing her to lose electricity, water and her savings.

I reassured her that there was nothing to be concerned about, and did my best to explain what was really going on, beyond the media hype, the volume of which was considerable when you take into account she had but one TV channel. However, satisfied with my explanation, she seemed never to give it another thought and the millennium switch came and went without incident.

The fact that she was worried at all was troubling and shows just how influential the media can be in exacerbating a problem. Today, we’re faced with a similar situation, demonstrated by my dad’s concern over hacking. So, just exactly who and what should you be worried about and why?

Hacking costs companies more than $445 billion each year.

Hacking costs companies more than $445 billion each year.

For those who don’t know, “hacking” refers to the act of using specialized programming that identifies and exploits weakness in the security of a computer system in an effort to either steal or expose confidential information, or just to prove it can be done. It is a crime and often the hackers are in another country.

These digital gangsters break in for a variety of reasons, mostly to steal and sell sensitive information, political records or financial information. Without getting into more deep technical and political motives, keep in mind that hackers aren’t interested in getting into your private computer.

Not to rain on anyone’s self-confidence, but you’re just not that important – unless you’re some celebrity or politician – for hackers to waste the effort. There has to be some gain in the end, although it might simply be the act itself, the accomplishment of breaking in.

Some hacked information is sold to other criminals who will use it for their own nefarious purposes. When performed against something like the marital cheating website, Ashley Madison, the hope is that there will be some big name to expose and embarrass. That leaves the potential for some celebrity or politician to pay handsomely to keep his or her name off of the publicized list, essentially using the information for extortion.

Most of the time, the average computer user is not directly at risk, but that said, you could still be vulnerable if a store or bank you frequent happens to be a target. The best advice is to read all correspondence from retailers and financial institutions.

If their systems are compromised, they will contact customers first – very quietly – before going public with the information, so as to limit panic among their patrons. You will be instructed what to do in the event of a hack and how to best communicate with the vendor for further information.

Another way to protect your own information with online accounts, and I can’t stress this enough, is to use strong, complex passwords. Often the data stored for online accounts does not include a visible password, even the website owners can’t help you if you lose it. So the more complex it is, and the more often you change it, the less likely a hacker will be able to gain access to your information even if they get in.

Hacking, as a criminal activity, has created a billion-dollar industry around the world, on both sides of cyber security. More than ever, specialists are being trained to combat cyber attacks and electronic infiltration on every level.

As cyber security becomes more sophisticated, so will the criminals who seek to break it. They are the nameless, faceless equivalents of the modern day Jesse James and John Dillinger. Each generation has its nemeses and cyber criminals are the current lot, intent on wreaking havoc with our digital world.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

Jamestown IT specialist says cyber security begins with user

In Dayton Ohio News, Technology, Uncategorized on March 27, 2015 at 2:41 pm
Photo_041109_003_GLD

Password protection is your first, best defense against cyber attack.

Jamestown, OH – According to Gery L. Deer of GLD Enterprises Communications in Jamestown, individual users must be more proactive to better protect personal, financial and business information from prying eyes, identity theft and asset loss. Apart from expensive security software, Deer suggested that the most effective defense may be, quite simply, better password management.

People of all ages now manage everything online from personal photos to bank records and, with all of that convenience, comes a certain level of risk. Statistics compiled by the Identity Theft Resource Center indicate there have been approximately 174 major data breaches in the first quarter of 2015, exposing more than 99 million records. (Report – http://www.idtheftcenter.org/images/breach/ITRCBreachStatsReport2015.pdf)

“It might come as a surprise to most cyber surfers that the individual user may actually hold the most powerful weapon in the war against hackers,” said Deer, who has worked in data management and IT since the mid-1990s.

“No matter what you’re doing on your computer or mobile devices, setting a secure password and changing it regularly will help keep things locked down,” Deer said. “Best of all, this single, most important preventative measure costs nothing.” He offers these beginning tips to help create highly secure passwords.

“First, consider the length of the password. Most websites and applications require an 8-character password with a maximum length of 16,” Deer suggests. “Password length is generally restricted to 8 or 16 characters, but the longer the password, the more secure it is.”

“We generally recommend that passwords contain at least 2 capital letters, 2 numbers and 1 non-alphanumeric characters or symbol (: #,+,(,*, etc.),” continued Deer. “Some programs and websites may not allow certain symbols, but most do, so it’s worth a try. For example, a password like, ‘Johns House’ could look like, Gon2+Hwz, and it would be very secure and tough to break.”

One of the most common mistakes is to use a password that creates a complete word, name, anagram or acronym. “No matter how innocuous it may seem,” Deer said, “passwords containing complete words, even spelled backwards, can be hacked by even the most basic password breaker.

In addition, Deer insists that passwords should be changed regularly, at a minimum of six month intervals, but the more often the better. “New passwords should never be too similar to the previous ones and it’s important never to use the same password for every account.”

As always, Deer recommended using caution when opening email from unknown sources and always sign out of accounts and turn the computer off when not in use, particularly when traveling with a laptop.

“When in doubt, disconnect the connection to the Internet,” Deer said. “Turn off the modem, router or wireless link. When the computer is off, there is no way of accessing the hard drive or connected networks.” For more information on securing personal accounts, contact GLD Enterprises Communications, online at gldenterprises.net or call 937-902-4857.