Cyberphobia: Part Two: Beefing up Online Security

Encryption, General Interest, Security

by Amy Steinbauer

This is the second post of my in depth review of Edward Lucas’ book, “Cyberphobia”

Password Protected?

Toward the end of Cyberphobia, author Edward Lucas shares an anecdote about checking to see if his email was involved in any attacks from have i been pwned?. His email had fallen victim to some attacks. I couldn’t help but check all of my emails, and my family’s emails… and the result. My main email was attacked in a 2012 Yahoo data breech. I really don’t know what that means, but it inspired me to change my password (something that I hadn’t done since April 2011).

Online Security Everyone knows that we should be regularly changing our passwords and making sure that they are beyond this list but we are lazy, and forgetful. Right before I read this book, I resolved the fact to myself that I can no longer remember my passwords for sites I use once a month for various bills, so each month I have to reset everything. I found myself creating the very document that Lucas warns us not to create, a document on your computer with all your passwords! Although, I suppose that I could make an old fashioned one with real paper and pen, and keep it in an area that only I have access to.
This condition affects many others, and as a cool term that Lucas uses, with all the challenges of creating unique passwords, we grow to have “passworditis” or the stress that is caused by trying to remember all the unique passwords, pins, and memorable answers to login to our basic needs online. (page 213). One of the interesting suggestions he makes is to have one separate email address solely for password recovery.

Security Patches

Allow your computer, iPhone, and other devices to update to current software, Amy. Sorry for the mental note to myself, but I am Queen of Ignoring Updates! It always seems like it will take too much time, which writing it out now seems a bit ridiculous. It turns out there besides helping my devices to perform smoother; these patches can leave your devices open wide invitation for hackers! Lucas equates it to leaving your car unlocked or driving with bald tires (pg. 49). Those analogies make a strong case for letting the momentary interruption of an update have your attention before it becomes a problem.

Future Authentications

Fake information: Some companies now require you to climate false information about your life to verify your identity. I bought a new iPhone from Best Buy in December and before the giant purchase, I had to verify places that I had never lived.

Biometric Recognition: Fingerprints, retinal scanning, heartbeats, or anything that we’ve seen in a Mission Impossible movie may be where we are headed to be able to verify our access to particulars.

E-Identity: Lucas is a proud card-carrier of the world’s first digital e-Residency card for the Baltic Republic of Estonia. This government issued e-card allows the author to provide an authenticated identity and signature from anywhere in the world. Is this how the future will look for the rest of us? Residents are issues cards at birth and can use them to pay bills, as public transportation expenses, and login to websites that require identification; all without having to give a bunch of answers about your identity. It seems like an interesting concept but reminds me a bit of my future fears of a world of Minority Report.

Overall, this was an enjoyable and creepy read. Creepy in all the right ways of forcing me to rethink how I interact with the numerous technologies in my life. I have a strong love/hate relationship with it, but it is enviable in my life, and in yours! So, we have to make peace with using it and not going insane. Good luck to all of us!


Amy Steinbauer is the Early Childhood Outreach Library at the Beaumont Library District in Southern CA. She drives a bookmobile and specializes in outreach and early literacy! She has her MLISc from University of Hawaii, and a B.A. in English from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. She won the 2015 Conable Scholarship to attend ALA Annual in San Francisco, and will be presenting at the 2016 Annual conference in Orlando, FL. She loves professional development, and is currently serving as a Board Member at Large for the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS), is on ALA’s Public Awareness Committee, and on the SASCO Committee through NMRT. She loves mermaids, and advocating for libraries, and will one day combine them both to take over the world! Until then, follow her on twitter @merbrarian.

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