Horse Sense #137

The Golden Rule of Cyber Safety

YOU are responsible for your cyber safety and the safety of others.

Cyber safety is really about what people know and do. Computers are only tools. People need to know how to use them safely.

The Cyber Safety I Learned in Driver's Education

We spend many hours a day "driving" our computers, but how well have we been trained to drive them? My most useful class ever was driver's education. There were some real nuggets of safety wisdom in it we can adapt to cyber safety.

"Right of way does not matter to the dead guy." Just because you are allowed to do something does not mean that you should do it. Clicking on a suspicious link is not a good idea, especially if it the web site now asks for your banking information.

"95% of people consider themselves above average drivers." People tend to feel secure and confident when doing everyday tasks like driving and computing. But assuming the other guy will "do the right thing," is not a good idea. No one is born knowing how to be safe around computers. They need to be taught and reminded. Never assume someone will act safely or knows how to be safe. It is best to assume that they do not know and you must tell them. And, even when you tell them how to be safe, you should not assume they will remember and do what you tell them.

"Safety measures do not mean nothing will happen to you. Hopefully, that will be the case and your defensive driving will miss a crash entirely. If you do crash, though, your seat belt will save you from more serious injury." There are very simple and effective moves you can make to increase your ability to avoid many computing problems and make others less devastating. Most people start to believe in backing up their data *after* they have had a disaster. Safety measures do take effort, but they can greatly reduce the chance of a lot of pain!

"Safety is for everyone, all the time."

"What you hold in your hands is dangerous!"

"Regular maintenance means it will more likely do what you want when you need it."

"If you cannot pay full attention, stop!" Humans lose focus and need breaks and changes in routine. However, this does not mean they should multitask. Humans multitask poorly. Trying to do too many things at once, like texting and driving, increases your risk dramatically. The same is true in your work environment. Distracted people make costly mistakes.

"Use the safety that is there." Do not turn off your anti-malware. Do not try to "get around" some inconvenient safety measure, like putting a post it note with your password on your monitor. If you feel a safety measure really is not working for you, work with your cyber safety people to find an acceptable alternative.

"Know your limitations and assume that you are being overly generous. Missing a crash by inches will take more years off your life than missing it by car lengths. If it feels scary, back off and look for help. If in doubt, it is better to be safe than sorry. In the long run it is easier not to break something than having to fix it. People who worry that they may not be completely safe do not take as many risks.

"Education keeps you safe." Those who have not learned safety measures are a danger to themselves and others and need to be educated. Those who *have* learned safety measures need to refresh their knowledge and learn more. Your safety requires your effort. Practice safety enough to make safety a habit.

"First aid saves lives." Know what to do and who to call when something goes wrong. Practice scenarios so you will be ready. This is true both in the physical and cyber worlds. Imagine various scenarios of something going wrong. What should you do?

"The cops show up after the accident." The best warranty is one you never use. Outsiders can only help you so much with your recovery. Some outsiders may instead be looking to inflict further hurt on you because you compromised their data, messed up their business, etc. The cavalry may not only not be coming to your rescue, they may be coming to take the survivors prisoner. Again, real cyber safety is up to you.

Three People Matter When It Comes to Cyber Safety

There are three people you worry about in cyber safety: you, we, and them. You can control what you do. You can influence, correct, remind, and check up on the people around you (the we) to act safely. "They" are often thought to be "the bad guys." But, thinking in terms of safety, it is those people you come in contact with the most that are most likely to do you harm. And the one most likely to cause harm? It is you! You are much more likely to cause yourself grief than anyone else by deleting a file you need, dropping your notebook, etc. You are your own greatest risk, so a safety program must concentrate on you, the menace!

Cyber security worries about what the bad guys are doing, who to blame, and how to deal with compliance. Cyber security is often onerous and imposed by others. You think you can somehow buy some magic pill and all will be well. It is a very negative view.

Cyber safety worries about what you and those around you are doing, how to minimize the problems caused by risks, and emphasizes reasonable work measures to minimize those risks and their consequences. Safety we do ourselves and demand of others. Safety is positive and empowering.

Forget the "bad guys." Forget cyber security. Think cyber safety.

If you want concrete ideas tailored to your own particular situation to improve your safety, call Iron Horse!

©2016 Tony Stirk, Iron Horse