Posts Tagged ‘Technology’


Cyber Security: Fighting Back Against Threats

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Computer hacker stealing data from a laptop concept for network security, identity theft and computer crime

By Sydney Rodgers*

Theresa Payton is a notable expert on leading cyber security and IT strategy. As former White House CIO from May 2006 until September 2008, she is one of the leading security specialists in the nation. Payton is the CEO of Fortalice Solutions and co-founder of Dark Cubed. Both companies provide security, risk and fraud consulting services to various organizations.

At the recent Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) International Conference, Payton compared potential security risk to connecting a talking Barbie to unknown WIFI sources. According to Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council (ITRC), in 2015 over 169 million personal records were exposed due to breaches. With the internet playing such a large role in daily life I wanted Payton’s insight on how to structure your brand. Below Payton gives us tips on how to expand your assets without putting them at risk.

 

How does someone determine their most valuable assets?
Your most valuable asset(s) is that information that you absolutely cannot afford to lose. It’s the most critical asset that you need to safeguard and protect either for yourself or your organization.  Lots of digital assets are considered valuable but the top 3 digital assets that cyber criminals target before and during a large event are:

  1. The schedules of notable people and their security detail assignments;
  2. Ability to spoof or fake credentials online or in person; and/or
  3. Stealing personally-identifiable information or the right credentials to access payment information and bank accounts

 

What trends do you see in breaches of security?
Over the course of my career, one item rings true over and over again. Today’s technology, by design, is open so it can be easily updated. That open design also means that a breach is inevitable, but how you plan to respond to one is not. If you create and store data, there will be cyber criminals waiting to pounce to copy it, take it, post it, ransom it, or destroy it. Offensive strategies with defensive mitigating controls work, but a purely defensive strategy is a losing strategy. For every defense you put in the path of a cyber criminal, just like a squirrel after an acorn, they will relentlessly try to circumvent your defenses to grab it.

As we live in today’s world, it would be completely negligent to only think in terms of physical or digital security as two separate entities. We discussed this in great detail at the White House that a security strategy must dovetail the two together, physical and digital, and that a one sided approach was doomed to fail.

 

What things should someone take into consideration when looking into cyber security?
An area often overlooked or widely misunderstood is the use of open source intelligence, also known as OSINT, as part of the overall strategy. 70% of data breach victims indicate that they were alerted they had a breach from someone outside their own organization. That stunning statistic reinforces why every company should target your own organization, as if you are the adversary. This approach helps you identify the information leaking out of your vendor’s connections to your data, through your own employees, or technology, before cyber criminals use that same intelligence to launch an attack against your organization.

Digitally, you can use OSINT tools to identify everything you can about the technology and people that work at your organization. You can also use OSINT to see if your sensitive data has leaked online. Physically, you can use an OSINT technique to digitally geo fence a specific and physical land area and monitor the digital traffic occurring that mentions the location. In the case of fighting terrorism, private sector companies and law enforcement can geo fence critical infrastructure, significant events, and venues and then monitor to identify terrorist capabilities, sympathizers, motivation, flash points and intentions through various OSINT tools.

 

What apps would you suggest someone use to monitor their protection?
Some apps that I use everyday are: Privacy Badger and Ghostery to protect my online browsing from 3rd party marketing firms and other snoops. I also use Threema to protect sensitive text messages.

 

Should there be differences in cyber security for personal and professional?
How you think about protecting your privacy and sensitive digital assets in your personal and work life are the same. Most of the principals that you apply in your personal life should go to the office with you and vice versa. Please make sure you are familiar with the tighter restrictions at work that are typically agreed to within employee agreements that you have signed so you don’t unknowingly break rules or put your company’s most sensitive assets at risk.

 

Follow Theresa Payton on Twitter @trackerpayton. And check out Fortalice Solutions.

*Sydney Rodgers is a student at Southeast Missouri State University. She has always been interested in the communication process and social interaction and is currently studying public relations. In her spare time Sydney likes to keep up with current events and is AVP of Communication for her Public Relations Student Society chapter.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SydSpksSuccess
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sydney-rodgers-5a6305127

Cross the Generational App Divide by Discovering Improvement Points

Monday, October 13th, 2014
Generation Gap Apps BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Public Relations PR Software media monitoring press clipping

flickr user Jason Howie under CC BY

It happens all the time: older generations just don’t get the latest gizmos kids these days are using. What doesn’t happen every day is when there’s a conversation about it in an editorial space and the publication makes that conversation public.

That’s what news site Quartz did last week. In talking about payment app Venmo, writers under 30 said they used the app all the time and that they and their friends found it incredibly useful. The response from the over-30 crowd: “Why?!”

Venmo allows users to pay their friends for split checks, rent, whatever. The fact that one of your friends paid another can show up in your feed, like social media, or the payments can remain private. The over-30 participants in the chat remained bewildered as to why under-30s would want such information shared and why they would connect their bank account with an app in the first place.

As an under-30 myself, I’d never heard of Venmo and would probably never use it. But the over-30s in this conversation missed a crucial point, one that is frequently missed when talking to and marketing across generations: It doesn’t matter if you don’t get it, because people use it anyway.

In August The Atlantic published some findings about the most popular apps by generation, and while everyone’s top apps include Facebook and Pandora Radio, there’s a surprising (or not so surprising) difference between age groups. People over 55 play solitaire and use Yahoo! Mail, people 35 to 54 use Viggle and still play Candy Crush, users 25-34 still use Skype and have the highest Netflix usage, and people ages 18 to 24 use Kik Messenger, Snapchat, and Ifunny :).

This makes plain what most people would expect: Just as different generations respond to different words and messaging, they use different apps and interact with their smart phones differently. The Quartz discussion makes clear that for public relations pros and marketers, it’s important not to get caught up in thinking “why would you use that?” but instead to focus on the facets of popular apps that draw in users of specific age groups and leverage that understanding to reach an ever broader audience.

The most important thing to focus on is what does the app improve? Most apps that resonate with users will improve an existing procedure. Kik allows you to message your friends while also browsing news and games. This improves chatting by not forcing users to switch apps all the time. Venmo makes it easy for kids who don’t like to carry cash to easily and immediately pay each other back.

You might not be an app developer, but analyzing app use across generations can help you figure out what users and generations value and then speaking to those values.

Thanx Hanx: Why Old-School Isn’t Going Anywhere

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Hanx Writer Old School Technology BurrellesLuce Media Monitoring Public Relations PR SoftwareThis week in odd pairings, Tom Hanks launched an app. Slickly doing away with that stuffy “ks,” the app is called Hanx Writer, and it’s an iPad app that looks and sounds like a typewriter. If you ever felt like all the swiping and tapping you did on your iPad was just too silent, Hanx Writer rights that wrong and kits you out with all the clacks, dings, and whizzes your 21st Century heart could desire.

It’s been number one in the iTunes App Store since its launch last week, so it’s clearly striking a chord with modern-day typists. Perhaps it’s not surprising, since repackaging of the old in the guise of the new isn’t exactly a groundbreaking sales or marketing tactic. But what makes the app so interesting, besides appealing to sensory satisfaction, is that so many people seem excited to reconnect with an old, some might say more traditional, time and technology.

Hanx Writer is yet another reminder that old-school technology doesn’t really disappear. Five years ago everyone thought books would die and be replaced by ebooks. Spoiler alert: They didn’t. Radio is still around as is its supposed replacement, television; hipsters love shooting on film; and though the news just loves to talk about the demise of print, it’s probably safe to say newspapers and magazines won’t become extinct. So instead of worrying that old technologies will be replaced, let’s just remember new technologies, like new movie stars, just elbow their way in.

The “old” is still there, and often, it’s just as useful and influential as before.

And of course, now there are apps for radio, TV, photos, and print publications. For anyone worried about Millennials who don’t experience the joy of writing on parchment with a quill and inkwell, I’m sure Tom Hanks will get right on that with his next app.

Are Shocks From Pavlok the Best Way to Achieve Your Goals?

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Pavlok Shocks Achieving Goals Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Public Relations PR Media Monitoring PR SoftwareHow would your communications goals and habits change if your CEO managed you with electrical shocks? What if a device managed you with shocks, invited your friends to do so, and had access to your bank accounts? While the first scenario might be far off, the second is already here: Pavlok.

Pavlok is the latest in technology wrist bands and it doesn’t just track your activity, it shocks you into complying with goals you set. Let’s say you want to want to stop hitting the snooze button when you wake up – if you set that as your goal, Pavlok will shock you until you get up.

Ostensibly, Pavlok is about helping you achieve your goals and create positive habits. According to its site, “Pavlok will push you to stay on track and form [a] lasting habit” with negative feedback: shocks, monetary penalties, lost access to your phone, all “at the hands of your friends.”

We all know that habits can be tough to break, but is the equivalent to a shock collar taking wearable technology a bit too far? Experiments that use shocks on animals and humans to control behavior are already considered unethical, so putting a shock bracelet on the market seems like a bit of a gray area.

There’s also the issue of voltage; Pavlok shocks are up to 340 volts, and even less can be a deadly shock with direct contact to wires. While Pavlok presumably does not put the wearer in contact with wires, what happens if your wrist gets wet (making your skin a far more effective conductor) and you get shocked? What if there’s a malfunction?

Electrical concerns aside, creating new habits and achieving goals is not easy, but there are ways to do so without shocking yourself. For example, setting SMART goals makes it easier to track your progress and success. Developing new, positive habits also isn’t easy, and it certainly requires time, patience, and willpower; while it may seem like a wrist band might be able to crack the code on habits, the problem with positive or negative reinforcement is that it’s easy to become complacent. Sure, you might figure out how to not get shocked by Pavlok, but when the novelty wears off and you start leaving it at home, those new “habits” stand a good chance of not sticking.

That’s why sticking to proven habit-forming techniques like micro quotas and macro goals is probably a better tactic than pinning your hopes to wearable tech. Pavlok might believe that willpower isn’t enough, but research shows that motivation helps beget discipline.

While you probably wouldn’t want your CEO to put a Pavlok on you, comfort yourself by imagining what would happen if you put one on your CEO while they were being interviewed so you could shock them if they strayed from what you’d practiced. How would both of you fare?

What to Do on Your Digital Detox

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
Leave those devices behind

Leave those devices behind

Digital detoxes are all the rage, so you’ve disconnected wifi, silenced your devices, and put them out of sight and reach. Finally, you can be productive.

Now what? Whether you’re unplugging for a day or a week, the best way to take advantage of your newfound unplugged time is to know what the goal of unplugging is in the first place. Is it to brainstorm new ideas, forcibly manage your time, relax and recharge, or reconnect with a hobby? Your goal defines how to use your unplugged time.

Here are three ways to take advantage of your status as digital hermit and achieve your goal of getting it done or getting away from it all.

Free write

If your goal is to brainstorm, set aside time to sit down with a pen and paper for at least ten minutes and write whatever comes into your head. It’s helpful if it is related to what you want to work on, but it’s not mandatory.

This is an exercise I used to do at a writing retreat (and an exercise I should do more often), and it helps to loosen your thinking muscles – think of it as a warm-up to your productivity workout. Often, in what you wrote you’ll find a nugget, a great idea you hadn’t thought of before, which makes working that much smoother and more productive.

It’s important that during this exercise, you do your best not to judge what you write as “stupid” or “pointless.” It doesn’t matter what you write, just that you write something and get your brain whirring in a non-digital medium.

Savor the silence

So you want to relax and recharge; it’s not always as easy as you hope it will be. To keep from feeling unmoored once you unplug, think of what you do on vacation. Do you read, take a walk, nap, meditate, or play a sport? Do that!

If you’ve been so busy that you’ve forgotten how you unwind, you definitely need this unplug time, so don’t give into the digital withdrawal you’ll likely experience. The free writing exercise can help you relax your mind, but if you don’t want silence, consider reaching out (via telephone, not email or text!) to friends or family for a social visit (sans digital device). This can help you ease in to your unplugged state by constructively and beneficially occupying your mind.

Do your best not to give in to the voice that tells you you have to do something. Being connected tricks us into thinking we can do something all the time; connecting to the world outside your screen is doing something.

Manage withdrawal – or the dread of reconnecting

You may experience withdrawal, but the plus side is that it probably won’t last for long; people who are forced to disconnect often find their unplugged lives to be much more vivid and refreshing. If you feel withdrawal, put your device well out of reach. Some heavy Internet users experience a significant drop in mood once they’re disconnected, so keeping yourself occupied with friends or activities can help lessen that. If you’re only disconnecting for an hour or two – or even for 24 – moving to an unconnected area won’t rely solely on your willpower.

Chances are, you’ll unplug and never wish to go back. Unless your career and lifestyle can support that, it probably won’t happen, but you can commit to using your devices less. Delete social media apps from your phone and only connect on a computer; turn off notifications and only check email at designated times; or install an app on your computer that forcibly blocks you from the Internet.

How do you take advantage of your unplugged time?