Ben's Book of the Month: Review of "Cyber Smart: Five Habits to Protect Your Family, Money, and Identity from Cyber Criminals"

Posted on by Ben Rothke

The first edition of Computer Security Basics by Deborah Russell & G.T Gangemi (O'Reilly 978-0596006693) came out almost 30 years ago. One might think that knowing those computer security basics would be enough to help them avoid being a victim today. But even if the book came out 5 years ago, so much has changed in technology in general, and information security specifically, that it would be dated by now.

In Cyber Smart: Five Habits to Protect Your Family, Money, and Identity from Cyber Criminals (Wiley 978-1119559610) Bart McDonough has written an up to date guide that can help users understand what they need to do in order to be safe when online. It is written in an easy to understand style, which educates the reader; rather than leaving them confused with countless new security terms and acronyms.

For many people, when they are presented with new technologies, be it in the form of smartphones, desktops, tablets, and more; it is done without training them how to use these items securely. Such a situation lends itself to misuse, data loss, and data breaches.

In the book, McDonough walks the reader through the many steps needed to ensure they don’t fall victim to ransomware, cybercrime, fraud and more. Safe computing, like most things in life, center around having good habits. In the books 21 chapters, McDonough walks the reader through all of the fundamental and good habits needed for effective information security.

The first part of the book deals with risks and attack methods used. In part 2, he spends well over 100 pages detailing numerous recommendations to help the reader avoid becoming a victim. This includes protecting your identity, children, money, email and much more.

While it can be difficult not to become a victim, the goal is not to make it any easier for the attackers. Readers who follow the advice detailed in the book will make sure they likely don’t become the low-hanging fruit for hackers and cybercriminals.

McDonough writes what he calls brilliance in the basics, which are 5 cybersecurity habits that will prompt attackers to move onto easier targets. These habits are: updating your devices, enabling two-factor authentication, using a password manager, using up to date anti-virus software, and backing up your data.

This is not the first guide to safe computing and it certainly won’t be the last. But for those looking for a thorough and easy to understand book on the topic, Cyber Smart is a good resource to use to avoid being put on the computer security victims list.

Ben Rothke

Senior Information Security Manager, Tapad

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