The use of technology has simplified our lives in many ways—allowing us to work or go to school from home, stay in contact with friends and family, and shop from the convenience of our couch. However, its use doesn’t come without its share of threats, so we’ve asked alumnus Ryan Heidorn M’12 for tips on how we can be more #CyberSmart.
Having launched Steel Root, a cybersecurity company with fellow alumni Scott Freedson M’12, Heidorn is the perfect go-to for pro tips. Both alumni met while earning their Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) through Endicott College. Heidorn who was already working in IT says, “The program taught me how to connect IT with business objectives—that understanding is what enabled me to apply my systems engineering skill set into more business-integrated technical roles, and eventually start my own business.” He found that the faculty teaching the program came from a variety of backgrounds, such as business, IT operations, entrepreneurship, and higher education. He notes, “That mix of perspectives helped me develop a broader view of how IT can be a transformative force within different types of organizations.”
Here's what Heidorn suggests:
Everyone knows that technology is completely ingrained in our lives. But most people don’t realize how interconnected our digital lives are: we carry our phones everywhere we go; we swipe our credit card; we check our work email; and we share a photo on Instagram. All of those data points connect, and the implications of that pervasiveness—of how we consume, generate, and access data—are mind-boggling. Issues of cybersecurity and privacy affect everything from our personal accounts and the places we work to national security and human rights.
Today, everyone who uses technology should practice basic cybersecurity hygiene—there are a few things I recommend to everyone to develop strong cybersecurity habits.
1. Set up multi-factor authentication (MFA, 2FA) for all your accounts. If you do nothing else, do this! Adding a second factor of authentication (often an authenticator app on your phone) is free and extremely effective for preventing unauthorized use of your accounts – even if your password is breached.
2. Use a password manager to easily manage your passwords and maintain strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts.
3. Maintain a paid subscription for security software on all your devices. “Free antivirus” doesn’t cut it. Macs get malware, too!
4. Encrypt your hard drive. Use BitLocker for Windows or File Vault for macOS to protect your data if your laptop is lost or stolen.
5. Review permissions and privacy settings on your smartphones and tablets. Restrict apps and services to only the personal information (location, microphone, camera) that they need to operate.