Riverbank Ruminations

Observations From the Banks of the Technology River

Are You Wise When it Comes to Digital Security?

Are you wise?

Knowledge: (noun) - acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation; general erudition:

Understanding: (noun) - mental process of a person who comprehends; comprehension; personal interpretation; superior power of discernment; 

Wisdom: (noun) - knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; 

Source: Dictionary.com

The above words are sometimes used interchangeably but we can see some differences. Knowledge is acquired. Understanding is a process and wisdom leads to action. A practical example might be as follows:

Knowledge – I am standing on railroad tracks and I see a train coming

Understanding – If I stand here the train will hit me. As the train is much larger than I am, I will likely be killed.

Wisdom – Get off the tracks.

Let’s see how that applies when it comes to security.


Knowledge – there is a lot of spam out there. The spam is sent with bad intentions

Understanding – If I click on a link, chances are bad things will happen. There are ways to determine which emails are spam and which are not.

Wisdom – Always test links, analyze emails before acting on them and DON’T CLICK bad links.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

Knowledge – Security cameras can help increase safety. Baby monitors can allow parents to keep tabs on children without being in the same room. Some of these devices can be accessed from the Internet.

Understanding – If I can access these devices from the Internet, so can other people. There are ways to prevent this.

Wisdom –Change default passwords on remotely accessible devices. Find out if the ones you want to buy have hard coded default passwords. Find out if these devices can be upgraded to eliminate security risks. DON’T buy devices on price, buy with security in mind.

Mobile Devices

Knowledge – My phone can be tracked by people, lots of people. This information may or may not be detailed. Other people will use this information to sell me things. Many apps have 10 or more tracking addins that share data with 3rd and 4th parties.

Understanding – If I allow tracking on my phone I should not be surprised when I get contacted by people I don’t know. (See this article where people were contacted by personal injury lawyers while sitting in hospital ERs)

Wisdom – Set your phone/devices to the tracking level you are comfortable with allowing. Make a conscious decision about tracking. Your phone can be tracked without your permission by tapping into WiFi, cell data, or GPS using apps. Understand what information the apps you are installing are providing to others.

Social Media

Knowledge – Social media is a way to keep in touch with distant family or friends. Everybody wants to see my pictures, especially of my kids, my food, and my pets. My vacation pics are the best. (Not all knowledge is accurate knowledge!)

Understanding – Once I post something on the internet, it is there forever. I have no control over how my friends and family protect or use their computers so any information I let them access, I am letting any number of unknown people access.

Wisdom – Be very cautious about what you post on line. Pictures of children expose them to the world. Pictures of your home and possessions may invite bad guys to remove them. Too much information invites bad consequences, so be very select about what you post. Thoroughly understand privacy settings on social media and set them so only those necessary see the content.

Almost everyone who goes online has some knowledge. They may even have some understanding of possible pitfalls that abound. The sad number of people who are victimized by online scams underline that wisdom (taking an informed course of action) is not the possession of all people. If you feel like you could use some more wisdom, team up with a trusted advisor and let them help you put your knowledge and understanding to good use. These days, only the wise survive.

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