THE BLOG

Please Switch Off Your Electronic Devices.....

04/07/2013 11:16 BST | Updated 02/09/2013 10:12 BST

It was interesting to read that British Airways is loosening the rules about the use of mobile phones on aircrafts - at least once you are on the ground and heading to the stand.

It always strikes me as funny how you can flip open your copy of War and Peace on a flight but not switch on your Kindle when waiting for a flight to take off or land.

It seems often there is a sort of discrimination between the digital and the physical world. Yet in reality we are all creatures of the digital age. Virtually everything we do leaves a digital footprint - whether it is our reading habits, our banking activities or our shopping preferences.

So why is it we seem to value physical over digital so much?

We often act very much more recklessly in the digital world than the physical. After all how many of us have taken directions from a friend or colleague to visit a certain website without a second thought? Few people take the trouble to check the validity of the website we are visiting before we go there, or even know what to look for.

My technical colleagues show a scary hacking demonstration which copies a well known website at the click of a mouse button, using a freely available (if you know where to look) piece of software. Using social engineering they can then find what interests you have, send you a spoof email with a link to the cloned website. Once you click on the emailed link, they have full control of your laptop - from your passwords, to even switching on your microphone or camera. And what is especially scary is that you would never know you have been compromised. There is no sign, no obvious change in the activities of your computer, but you are effectively owned. Scary.

Yet by hovering the mouse over the email link before clicking on it, you can identify if there is something suspicious about a link. By ensuring that your security software is up-to-date and all software patched and updated you also stand a better chance of stopping your PC being compromised.

Of course cybercriminals are so clever they might still fool you, but we as users can at least take simple steps to safeguard our own safety online. After we all would not walk around a quiet street at night flashing our iPhone around - not if we wanted to keep it of course!

Bad things happen online as well as in the 'real' world, but we as users have to take some ownership of our online security - after all it is not all the responsibility of our IT departments or our service providers. Security starts with the education and awareness of the user.

A customer of ours who manages security for one of the biggest banks in the world highlights the issue of members of staff clicking on links in emails as one of the biggest issues his team faces. Clickers just can't help themselves clicking it seems just to see what happens ... even when they know they shouldn't!

But ultimately we all need to value the online world as much as the traditional world, and in turn companies need to value their digital assets as much as the physical ones.

We need to plan for the inevitable bad things to happen, and ensure that when they do we know about it and can deal with it before any lasting impact to our businesses.

In the meantime I shall continue to lug around my paperback so I can read while waiting to take off....