Cyber Security: Is the government doing all it can to protect your information?

Cyber-security expert, Michael Hayden, recently shocked the world by announcing that following the U.S.A. Freedom Act Americans are “definitely not safer.”  He argued that this policy change will make no significant difference to the safety and security of everyday people. The act, which striped the NSA of their right to collect bulk phone data, is merely the first of many steps required to create true online safety.

The Freedom Act was precipitated by the news that Chinese intelligence officials had stolen millions of personnel records from the Office of Personnel Management. People were astonished to learn that this kind of data theft was even possible.

Hayden, the only man to have ever served as director of both the NSA and the CIA, is probably worth listening to. Despite our best efforts to be safe online these things can only have an impact on a one to one level. Without an improvement in government safety we could definitely be in trouble.

The Wall Street Journal’s interview with Hayden warns readers not to be so comfortable with the state of their government’s internet security.  He argues that “The government ain’t coming” to save the day for cyber security and that citizens are more on their own than they “have ever experienced.”

Canada has also fallen prey to hackers and anonymouscyber security threats. While, as of yet, there has not been an issue on the scale of this theft of information there are some threats worth mentioning. Most recently, () Canadian government websites were temporarily shut down by cyber “hacktivist” group Anonymous. The group released a video in which they decried the Harper government and the passing of Bill C-51 and cited this shut down of the .ca and .gov websites as a call to action. This breach of security thankfully did not lead to any data theft but it shows potential for something significant.

Hayden pointed to a distinction between public and private corporations’ approach to cyber security.  While companies like Google and Apple spend vast quantities of money on ensuring the safety of their information, government organizations are content to use out of date security methods. Private corporations employ so called “white hat hackers” to act as double agents: breaking down their security systems to find weak points and helping to fortify them. This modern tactic could be useful in preventing further data theft and ensuring safer information.

FixMeStick wants to help you keep your information as safe as possible. They might not be state secrets but your photos and files are nonetheless important.  Click here to learn some helpful internet safety tips and stay tuned to our upcoming series- The Virus Lab – for more information about viruses in plain English!