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Applying National Security Measures to Your Personal Finances

by Ryan Guina

The military prides itself in taking the highest security measures to protect our nation’s secrets. Though most people never deal with matters of national security, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t take similar measures to protect their personal and financial information.The following definitions are used by the US government for training their military, civilian, and contractors who work on any government computer system. If these issues are important enough for national security, they are good enough for your personal information and finances!

Be aware of these threats to national security, and your personal information:

Phishing: High-tech scam that uses e-mail or websites to deceive you into disclosing your credit card numbers, bank account information, social security number, passwords, or other sensitive information. How to apply this civilian world: Companies will never ask for sensitive information via e-mail. Never click on links in suspicious e-mails; instead, type the url into the address bar.

Espionage: The act of obtaining, delivering, transmitting, communicating, or receiving information about the national defense with an intent, or reason to believe, that the information may be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage if any foreign nation. How to apply this civilian world: In this example, you can consider yourself the United States, and the national defense is the protection of your personal and financial information. Espionage would be equivalent to identity theft – or any attempt to obtain your personal information to use against you or to benefit someone else. Defend your personal information as you would defend your life.

Hacking: Illegally accessing other people’s computer systems for destroying, disrupting, or carrying out illegal activities on the network or computer systems. How to apply this civilian world: Hackers will attempt to access your personal information to steal your identity, or simply to cause destruction to the system. This could stem from an attack on your personal computer, or a commercial computer system that harbors your information. The best method of preventing this is to maintain up to date firewall and anti-virus measures and scan all downloads and executable files before opening them.

Malicious Logic: Hardware, software, or firmware capable of performing an unauthorized function on an information system. How to apply this civilian world: Examples of malicious logic include AdWare, SpyWare, Trojan Horses, Keyloggers, and other similar programs designed to record information or cause damage to your system. The best method of preventing this is to regularly scan your hard drive for these programs, maintain up to date anti-virus measures, and scan all downloads and executable files before opening them.

Social Engineering: A euphemism for non-technical or low-technology means – such as lies, impersonation, tricks, bribes, blackmail, and threats – used to attack information systems. For example, an unauthorized person who attempts to gain passwords by posing as a service technician with an urgent access problem. How to apply this civilian world: The majority of identity thieves know the criminal responsible for stealing their identity. Often, their information is stolen by people piecing together bits of their information until they are able to gather enough information that they can assume their identity to apply for credit, take out loans, write checks, and otherwise ruin your financial well-being. Always safe-guard your personal information around everyone – neighbors, friends, coworkers, and even family members.

Be vigilant. No, you are not at war. But you should still protect your personal and financial information like the military protects matters of national security. All it takes is one serious security breach to affect devastating and lasting effects on your finances.


Published or updated October 30, 2008.
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 deepali

Good reminder! We can be so careless sometimes, and it only takes once…

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