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The Weakest Links

Jonathan D. Spiliotopoulos

26 April 2017

Since I just helped a friend who fell victim to a phishing attack, I think now is a good time to remind everybody of two very important security basics.

First: Your password is too short

The best password shouldn’t be a word at all. It should be a complete sentence that includes both symbols and numbers.

“I love Amazon.com. It’s my #1 favorite because I always save 10% on my purchases.”

If you don’t believe me, check out what Edward Snowden has to say about it:

Second: Be Skeptical

When you receive an email that doesn’t seem right…

  • from your IT guy asking for a password,
  • from a bank saying there’s a problem with your account,
  • from a friend forwarding a chain saying WhatsApp will be charging money on Saturday…

…doubt it. Just doubt it right away.

Be skeptical by default. Believe nothing, challenge everything. Go on Google and search to see if the message is a scam. Ask somebody more versed in tech what their opinion is (unless that someone is Charles Delevan) before taking action. Or even kick it old school and pick up a phone to call the “source” to verify the claim.

Final Thoughts

Several years ago, I gave a presentation at the regional IASA show in Omaha, Nebraska. The topic was “Common Sense Security” and it showcased some of the challenges companies face in an increasingly dangerous digital environment.

And here’s the interesting fact from that presentation: most companies have fantastic security. The weak links are users like you and me.

So let’s be better. Use long pass phrases, and be skeptical of strange messages.

Trust nobody.

Jonathan D. Spiliotopoulos

About the Author

Jonathan D. Spiliotopoulos is a Partner with O’Brien Communications Group (www.obriencg.com), a business-to-business brand-management and marketing communication firm with responsibilities ranging from brand creation and creative concepting, to graphic design, web development, and more. He’s also an experienced teacher/trainer, presenter, a newbie dad, and is active in a number of communities and forums — online and in the real world — dedicated to helping others achieve their goals.

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