The latest on internet security

Posted on Posted in Computers and Internet, Security, Small Business

I’m disappointed with the reporting of internet security issues this week. This divisive world of fake news the latest political action and public reaction only muddies the core issues. It appears that few news reporters and even fewer readers have an understanding of the issue. Overall, it seems fair to say that there has been more misinformation than useful public information. This blog post summarizes some basic points on the issue.

  • Internet security remains a significant concern of individuals and businesses. I’ve written about specific small business concerns and remedies more than a dozen times here in my blog.
  • In December 2016 the Federal Communications Commission issued a regulation titled “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services“. It appears that few people or reporters have actually read the regulation. I skimmed it, but I don’t pretend to have any detailed understanding of the pros and cons of the regulation. Unfortunately, other writers who didn’t read the regulation seem to act as if they did.
  • The December 2016 regulation created a tougher standard to allow internet providers to sell user information. Instead of “opt out” like we are familiar with for the use of cold calling by telephone, the new regulation requires an “opt-in” requirement. The new standard was tougher and offered users a higher basic level of protection. However, it created and uneven playing field for sale of personal information since other big data firms were not subject to the rule.
  • The new rule was instituted with a 90 day waiting period, so it did not become effective.
  • This week both houses of Congress passed a resolution to repeal the regulation.
  • The White House supports the repeal action and President Trump is likely to sign the order into law.
  • The regulation had not taken effect, so neither the regulation nor the recent action by Congress actually has had any real effect on our lives.
  • We see widespread public outcry against Congress’ action and the president’s support of the move has been but it unlikely that public opinion will have any impact in this matter.
  • Several articles were published this week on the topic of ‘what can consumers do now to protect privacy’. Some of those articles contain false information. For example, this article is Vogue says that Firefox browser is safer than Chrome because it allows a higher degree of user control of plug-ins. Taken as a whole, that statement is false.

My advice to small businesses remains the same as always: assume that there is no internet privacy. Understand that there are two types of business attitudes toward online security: 1) those that have to respond because they have already been hacked ,and 2), those who don’t know it yet.

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