Kevin Mitnick came by his security expertise the hard way. In the
1990s, his electronic penetration of some of the biggest companies in
the world made him a notorious tech boogieman, and ultimately landed him
five years in prison. Now free and clear, Mitnick has reinvented
himself as a computer security consultant and writer. He travels the
world teaching organization show how to secure their information in a
world of corporate spies and younger versions of himself. He took a
break from his jet-setting to share some practical security tips. Clip
them and stick them on your parents' refrigerator or your IT
administrator's white board.
Here is Top 10 list of steps you should take to protect your information
and your computing resources from the bad boys and girls of cyber
• Back up everything! You are not invulnerable. Catastrophic data loss can happen to you -- one worm or Trojan is all it takes.
• Choose passwords that are reasonably hard to guess -- don't just
append a few numbers to a no-brainer. Always change default passwords.
• Use an antivirus product like AVG or Norton, and set it to update daily.
• Update your OS and be vigilant in applying all security patches released by the software manufacturer.
• Avoid hacker-bait apps like Internet Explorer and disable automatic scripting on your e-mail client.
• Use encryption software like PGP (pretty good privacy) when sending
sensitive e-mail. You can also use it to protect your entire hard drive.
• Install a spyware detection app -- or even several. Programs that can be set to run frequently, like SpyCop, are ideal.
• Use a personal firewall. Configure it to prevent other computers,
networks and sites from connecting to you, and specify which programs
are allowed to connect to the net automatically.
• Disable any
system services you're not using, especially apps that could give others
remote access to your computer (like Remote Desktop, RealVNC and
• Secure your wireless networks. At home, enable WPA
(Wi-Fi protected access) with a password of at least 20 characters.
Configure your laptop to connect in Infrastructure mode only, and don't
add networks unless they use WPA.
Today, Mitnick has been able
to move past his role as a black hat hacker and become a productive
member of society. He served five years in solitary confinement, and is
now a computer security consultant, author and speaker.