2007 state of the net

In May 2007, I commented on the Consumer Reports 2006 State of the Net assessment. Here are the results of the 2007 State of the Net report:

Spam

Your chances: 1 in 2

Viruses

Your chances: 1 in 5, with a typical cost of $100.

Spyware

Your chances: 1 in 11, with a typical cost of $100.

Phishing

Your chances of losing money from an account: 1 in 81, with a typical cost of $200.

Encouragingly, the odds of getting nicked by each one of these threats fell since 2006, except in the case of phishing (formerly 1 in 115, meaning phishing attacks are becoming cleverer and more widespread). The cost for each malady stayed roughly the same, with phishing the exception once again. Last year, phishing victims typically lost $850, so the number has fallen considerably.

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Why are privacy and security important?

Every so often, it helps to remind ourselves why security and privacy are important. In late 2006, Consumer Reports published its third annual State of the Net, which I think is an excellent summary and forceful reminder of why, exactly, security and privacy should be high priorities for everyone.

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Security is not a switch

It would be nice if there existed a straightforward security solution for every security problem in the world. Unfortunately, security is not that simple. Managing your security requires that you recognize an important point: security is not a switch that reads either “on” or “off”.

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Vesik method

In early November 2006, I wrote about how to foil keyloggers. The Vesik Method, outlined in the article, improves your level of security when you suspect a computer is harvesting your keystrokes but are in dire need of checking your bank account, email, or other sensitive service.

Because I’ve been travelling for the last 3 months in Asia, I have had access only to public computer terminals, mostly internet cafes. The majority of the computers I get to use are sputtering and coughing from infection, so I’m sure some are indeed logging my keystrokes. I’ve been using the Vesik Method to minimize the danger, so far with good results. None of my passwords appear to be compromised, despite entering them onto some of the most spyware-polluted computers I’ve seen.

Give it a try the next time you’re in the same situation.

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Don’t sacrifice privacy for safety

Picture of sign depicting a warning of video surveillance in the area

Bruce Schneier easily disarms the argument that says security and civil liberties must always be traded one for one. That’s only true if security is an afterthought for whatever process or project is in question.

Security and privacy are not two sides of a teeter-totter. This association is simplistic and largely fallacious. It’s easy and fast, but less effective, to increase security by taking away liberty. However, the best ways to increase security are not at the expense of privacy and liberty. (continue reading…)

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