This blog was written by Scott Montgomery, McAfee’s previous vice president and chief technology officer of public sector.
My McAfee colleagues who design and produce solutions for consumers put together a Twitter campaign for our employees to say what they do in order to live more safely on the Internet, with the hashtag #HowILiveSafe. I wanted to lend my voice to this fascinating effort and examine a few things I think about as it relates to Internet behavior and its physical world equivalent. If we treated the Internet a bit more like we do the physical world, with a little forethought and common sense, we’d all wind up a little safer and more private.
URLs and invitations
When you receive a URL in an email message, this is akin to receiving an invitation to an event in the mail. In the physical world, we’d see who the invitation was from and what kind of event it was before we make a more informed decision about whether to attend before setting foot inside the event location. For instance, if the invitation that came from the post office was from pHL!ppr and the event was the ‘knock you over the head and rob you’ party, you’d likely decide not to go and throw out the invitation rather than walking in and getting clobbered. But we look at these situations in our email inboxes and subjects and it’s even the tiniest bit frightening, amusing, or comforting – we’ll click right into it rather than weigh it like an invitation in the real world.
Apps and airport packages
If a stranger approached you pre-security at the airport and asked you to watch his luggage or package while he ran a quick errand, not only would you likely not cooperate, but you might be tempted to inform the authorities that a potential security situation was occurring. But when we’re online with our phones and tablets and downloading apps that aren’t endorsed by a credible publication or authority, have no reviews or downloads, or the download of which are prompted by questionable websites, we’re basically doing the equivalent of taking possession of a stranger’s package at the airport.
The Internet and living on cameras
Imagine you’re on the subway and two strangers were discussing a topic with strong positions like politics, religion, the opposite sex, or something equally potentially heated. You have a strong opinion on the matter, but just as you’re about to share it you notice that the local news station is filming the conversation, and a company you’re considering working for in the future is recording and typing a transcript. In the physical world, you’re unlikely to scream your opinion in a profanity-laced tirade to punctuate the conversation. Yet day after day we hear about members of our community saying, doing, and photographing things that could prevent them from getting that new job in their e-mail, texts, Twitter, phones, tablets, and cloud services. If you knew that the video, photo, or transcript of your rant would be available forever to the public, would you still go through with it?
There are dozens of more examples I could discuss, but I believe in each case the premise is the same: by treating my internet life more like my physical life is #HowILiveSafe.
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