Don't send diamonds to Russia
I've been asked by a reader to tell you a little about my views on security; particularly in relation to website security and why it's important.
Internet security is a big topic and it will take me some weeks to cover most of the key aspects but I thought I would start with a few very basic concepts and a little puzzle for you to think about.
The transparent envelope
The simple and important thing to understand is this; most of the correspondence you send over the Internet is sent in a transparent envelope.
This includes two key things;
- details you enter into forms (including your password - if the site is not encrypted)
- most, if not all, of your email correspondence
And when you send an email or fill in a form you're almost never talking directly to the second party. Your communication is being relayed through dozens of third party servers where anyone with access can read what you're sending without you ever knowing.
In other words; anyone working in the transit postal system or in the mail room at either end can read what you're sending.
Take some basic precautions
To protect yourself a little you can take a few very basic precautions.
First - don't use the same password for everything and use a complex password. I'll be explaining why password complexity is so important in a few weeks but for now please take my word for it.
Second - don't send secure details like credit card information or passwords around in email.
Finally - make sure you check before you sign up, sign in or hand over credit card details that the site you're using is secure. You can do this by checking the web address starts https rather than http - though most browsers these days will show you a clear green marker the address bar to validate the encryption certificate being used.
An illustrative puzzle!
There's a lot more to say on this topic so for now I'm going to leave you with a puzzle.
Boris and Doris want to get married and Boris would like to send his fiancée a diamond ring. Unfortunately the Russian postal system is so corrupt that anything of value will get stolen in transit unless it is in a locked box.
By "anything of value" I include padlocks, open boxes and especially keys - as well as diamonds of course.
How does Boris successfully send Doris the diamond ring without it being stolen in transit... using only the components of value given above?
If you think you know the answer why not post it in the comments below. If you don't then sign up to receive my weekly bulletin because I'll post the answer in my next security related article in a few weeks.