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50 Shades of Security Tips

Posted by on March 11, 2015.

Having started my career in IT and IT security in particular some two and a half decades ago, I sometimes cling to ideas and practices that may seem outdated in the 21st century: I tend to avoid the prefix ‘cyber’, I usually insist on hyphenating anti-virus, I use the term virus to refer to self-replicating malware rather than any old malicious software, and I’m decidedly squeamish about keeping to ethical standards that some younger researchers (actually, nearly all researchers are younger than I am…) may see as quaint.

You may have noticed that those two and a half decades put me in this business even before there was a World Wide Web as most people might understand it (at any rate before that name was used): this means that not only do I remember when security technology was very different to the diverse and sophisticated solutions available today, but I also had plenty of opportunity to observe how the fledgling anti-malware industry adapted to new marketing and PR opportunities.

While there has always been cooperation and collaboration among security researchers that transcends company boundaries, there was less cut-throat competition between companies in those early days than the sort of thing we often see now. To take a small but telling example, anti-virus vendors would not only put up databases of information on specific viruses/malware, but even linked (sometimes) to databases put up by other companies.

Fortunately, there have always been people in the anti-malware industry who don’t automatically put PR and commercial advantage ahead of public interest, and give credit where it’s due. As an example, I was rather pleased to be invited to contribute to a blog article by Aurelian Neagu for Heimdal Security, who asked a number of security researchers and journalists specializing in security topics to answer the question Can you name 3 security tips any user needs to follow to stay safe online?

In the end 19 people, some of them very well-known, contributed more than 50 tips to the article 50+ Internet Security Tips & Tricks from Top Experts. Take a look: even if there’s nothing new to you there, you might see enough good stuff there to recommend it to your less well-informed friends, readers, customers etc.

David Harley
Small Blue-Green World


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