'When, not if': Top tech officer to visit Kamloops to talk data breach protection

An internationally renowned information-security expert will be at Thompson Rivers University next week to discuss data breaches and how individuals and businesses can protect themselves.

Ben Smith, field chief technology officer at RSA (a Dell Technologies business), says data breaches are a matter of when, not if.

"It's happening to organizations of all sizes," he tells KamloopsMatters. "You need to have a good backup plan in place whether or not you think you're a target."

Earlier this month, more than 770 million leaked records appeared on the Internet. 

"The bigger picture is to understand that we are all potentially compromised today if we’re connected to the Internet. It’s clear that most, if not all of us, have been involved in some way shape or form. One of the many organizations you or I do business with has probably been attacked," says Smith.

His talk will touch on some best practices, he adds, including how to mitigate ransomware attacks. That's when a software program blocks access to a computer system until the computer user pays a sum of money.  

He encourages people to invest in an external hard drive, so they have access to their data.

"The important concept here is the backup should never live on the same system that you're trying to protect," he says.

Another tip to avoid being compromised is not using the same password over and over.

"There’s an element of laziness to all of us, when we log in and we’ve got a new vendor. They need a new username and a password, and it’s very natural to say, 'I’m just going to give them the same password because I can’t remember all these passwords.' Don’t do it. Don’t reuse passwords."

Instead, Smith says there are many password managers out there that can store all of them in a secure place. That way, one only needs to memorize one password. Not 30.

Even when downloading new apps, Smith notes it's important to read the fine print. If you're going to log in via Facebook, maybe the folks behind a flashlight app don't need to know your address.

Smith will be at Thompson Rivers University on Jan. 31. His keynote address is at 1 p.m. To register, click HERE.

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