First and foremost, I want to let readers know this will be my final Tech Talk column for Seacoast Media Group. For the last 14 years, I’ve tried to share timely and informative columns about technology that will help businesses and individuals better take advantage of the incredible capabilities that technology provides us all.
Can you imagine navigating the current pandemic without technology? No remote work, no remote learning, no virtual events, no family Zoom or FaceTime. The list goes on and on.
I hope you’ve benefited from what I’ve shared over the years. I appreciate the feedback and questions I’ve received from many of you. I also want to thank the editorial team at Seacoast Media Group, specifically Rick Fabrizio for always keeping me on track and supporting this column. Lastly, I want to thank all of you for reading. It’s been my pleasure to share my passion with you all these years.
But like everything in life, changes happen and I’m no longer able to devote the time and attention needed to keep submitting columns every two weeks. My work in the cybersecurity field is more important and more time consuming than ever and it needs my full attention. I’m fortunately to work with some incredible people who are truly pursuing an imperative to help keep us all safe, so that is where my time will be spent moving forward.
Speaking of cybersecurity, October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This is the 17th year of Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Under the leadership of the Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance, this initiative is focused on reaching consumers, small- and medium-sized businesses, large corporations, educational institutions and youth. It’s all about renewing attention on cybersecurity threats that face our nation, our economy, our society and in fact, the entire world.
This year’s themes focus on connected devices, both at home and at work, securing healthcare and what the future may hold. The hashtag #BeCyberSmart is associated with this year’s themes and you can follow all of the content online with that hashtag.
This past week had the theme “If You Connect It, Protect It.” Simply put, the line between online and offline almost doesn’t exist any longer. So much of our lives is connected, from our mobile phone to our cars. Recognizing how many connected devices we have is critical to understanding how to best protect them. Hackers understand our increasingly connected devices provide a very large attack surface for them to exploit. Just think about all the news stories over the years about data breaches and more. It’s more important than ever to protect your connected devices. If you’re not sure how to do so, engage a qualified professional to help you be safe.
This upcoming week has the theme “Securing Devices at Home and Work.” At work, you may have an IT department that takes on this burden, or an outsourced IT partner that you work with who will advise you on how to best protect your business assets. What about at home? Do you have a smart speaker, smart thermostat, cameras and other connected devices? If you do, are you sure they are secure and not vulnerable to hacker who may want to exploit these devices to then get to your computer or other devices where you do your personal banking and shopping? Home networks are more complex than ever and the need to secure them is not to be ignored.
The next theme is “Securing Internet-Connected Devices in Healthcare.” Like so many industries, healthcare is more connected than ever. Just think about the increase in telemedicine during this pandemic. It’s been critical to keeping patients connected to their care. Hackers have long targeted healthcare information for financial or competitive gain as well as other nefarious purposes. All healthcare organizations are investing more than ever to keep their systems secure and more needs to be done.
The final week of the month will have the theme of “The Future of Connected Devices.” With 5G finally coming to market, there is more capability than ever for increases in connectivity. This brings increased risks, as we’ve heard about in the lead up to 5G deployment. It’s important to understand the benefits the future holds, but also the change in risk that may come with them.
At the end of the day, you, the user of technology will always be the last line of defense. It’s important to be aware of the risks our connected lives carry. They can be managed and mitigated and the technology industry continues to invest in improvements designed to keep us safe. That said, we all have a part to play and initiatives like Cybersecurity Awareness Month is important to keep us alert and informed. Review the resources available at staysafeonline.org all year long for updates.
Stay safe online and most importantly, stay safe and healthy. I sincerely thank you for reading.
MJ Shoer is an IT consultant based in Portsmouth. He provides coaching and content development, partner program and technology stack management, Office 365 optimization, realistic cybersecurity and virtual CTO services to his clients. He maintains a blog about IT at www.mjshoer.com/blog and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.