As the CEO of a cyber security and reputation company, I have to admit to not being surprised by the recent successful hacking and penetration of the U.S. Government.
While the scope of the recent events is most definitely shocking, myself and others have been researching, writing about it and trying to push and pull officials to focus on the whole set of threats, not just the known ones, and not just the data hardening ones.
This recent set of hacking and penetration successes were definitely done by a Nation State, China in most probability. But guess what?
The intrusion was apparently found by a Vendor doing a sales pitch to the US Government, and not by the billions of dollars of hardened equipment or custom platforms designed to stop cyber attacks.
I am not being critical. Nor attempting to assign blame. It is what it is. Millions of Americans who work for or have worked for the US Government, myself included have been hacked. Not just hacked, but all of our secrets may soon be on public display or for sale or other.
In the past few years, U.S. consumers have been the targets of hacks from any number of companies that were breached, from Target and Home Depot to Equifax and Anthem among the biggies. But the reality is most companies have probably been hacked.
Most small to medium business do not have the sophistication or the resources to put in place strong cyber defenses. Even for the ones that do, that does not mean a successful defense.
What it means for you:
1. We are all vulnerable. Do not think your information is safe.
2. Disconnect computers from the internet when not using them, and power them down. Same for devices like tablets or phones or other internet connected devices.
3. Create a backup hard drive, find an encryption program you can easily use, and create an encrypted back up of your life.
4. Maybe your whole world does not to be interconnected. Maybe the smart home is not so smart in light of the potential privacy and security vulnerabilities presented by the inter-connect.
5. Take steps to protect private information. Get a safe deposit box at a bank, put all original documents in it, plus a copy of them.
6. Try to make air gaps between your information. Keep your financial records in one secure place. Your medical records in another, different secure place.
7. Be aware that your life may well be not private at all.
8. You are not alone, in fact maybe your whole country is right in the same situation.
In 2013, at my Gov20LA event we hold annually, I made some remarks about the need for families around the world to adopt encryption techniques to protect their information and themselves. That message was partially intended for families trying to fight against tyranny abroad; but is also a critical message for all of us now.
Bottom line though is that the world has changed. *A lot.*