The importance of basic cyber hygiene

PHOTO: The importance of basic cyber hygiene

The security industry shouldn't raise the alert about every vulnerability it detects, said Howard Schmidt, the former top IT security adviser to US President Barack Obama.

The familiarity that we have today with IT has also turned into general apathy for digital security, because people are savvy enough to turn off safeguards and willingly wade into potential threats out there, he said.

Mr Schmidt retired this year as Mr Obama's special assistant and cybersecurity coordinator.

His 40 years in the defence and security industry has seen him serve under two US presidents, George Bush and Mr Obama.

He was part of President Bush's critical infrastructure protection board, and special adviser for cyberspace security back in 2001.

His career has also taken him to eBay as chief security strategist and chief information security officer, as well as security officer at Microsoft.

Mr Schmidt also headed the computer exploitation team with the FBI back in 1994.

He told BizIT that the constant challenge facing the IT security industry is deciding what is secure "enough".


Vendors make a host of security tools available to the public.

Companies typically build fences around their users, but it comes to a point where it's counterintuitive, he said.

"If it takes three more mouse clicks to complete a task securely or just one without security, people will choose just the one," he said.