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Scary cyber-stuff

The Web as I envisaged it, we have not seen it yet. The future is still so much bigger than the past.

Hands-up who listened to Dr David Day at the BMF Members’ Day event with an increasing sense of trepidation an, by the end, downright terror?

Surely I wasn’t the only one who left the conference room swearing to go and change all my passwords? Obviously, I didn’t get around to it because there’s a very good reason why I use those particular passwords…..because they are the only blooming ones I can remember.

Dr Day, who I shall forever remember as Scary Cyberman, told us what every cyber-security expert tells us, something that in our heart of hearts, we all know: that you should use a different password for each and every website that you log into. He also told us how businesses are being put at risk by the lax attitude to cyber-security of employees.  And it’s not that employees don’t care it’s just that we are all victims, in a way, of our increasing need to have our lives online or in digital format.

We grasp every new technological development that makes our lives easier with the fervour of a 1970s-jumble-sale-octogenerian but every time we do so, we leave more of a digital footprint, more ways that our information can be compromised and more things for our poor, addled brains to forget. I used to do much of my supermarket shopping online, because it was so much easier than schlepping down to Tesco. Now I do it all via the app on my phone because it’s so much easier than schlepping into the study to get to the computer. If I lose the phone, I lose access to pretty much everything, including the password-reminder to get into The Cloud (still not sure how that works, by the way) so I can access the back-up.

I know there are lots of you, dear readers, who are much more switched on digitally, who do only use random song lyrics for passwords or who have a password manager system set up, but there is an equally high number who put their finances and those of their businesess at risk because there is only so much capacity in the human brain.

As Scary Cyberman said, those who run phishing scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated. They know what makes us tick and what is likely to make us trust them: it’s fear or greed. How often has your mouse hovered over an attachment, supposedly from a client or supplier, that you probably shouldn’t open? One of those ‘here is your invoice ones , so you think, I don’t remember what tat is, I;d better have a look and see and then bam, your system freezes and the IT bods shut you down while they sort it out. It happened to a colleague of mine, it can happen to any of us.

I don’t really know what the solution is because I know for sure my brain capacity isn’t getting any bigger to cope with all this. We just need to be careful, be vigilant, don’t use obvious user names and passwords and hope that we get away with it.



About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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