I recently enjoyed a blog post by Brian Solis that discussed the blurred lines between the current physical dimension that our social lives have historically been comprised of to the digital personals and lives we lead within those social communities. Many, including the millennial generation have accumulated massive hours interacting socially and now professionally online. Sage advice is given about the need to appreciate that the kinetic and digital worlds have completely collided. There is reason to embrace and applaud this phenomenon but there is also reason to proceed with caution as we move forward with an increasing pressure to share and do more online.
Cybercriminals are riding the wave too. Underground forums, chat rooms and information exchange communities have dominated their lifestyles since the mid 1990’s. One could argue, the cyber underground was the first to showcase how one could share and interact socially. Using a “handle” to become well versed in all things cyber and how to improve their attack capabilities and reputation. Essentially hackers have had a head start at perfecting their digital personas and how to maintain their profile. Some are exceptionally good at growing their following, driving adoption of their ideas and methods and certainly using their digital personals and companies to make a good living through nefarious activities and tactics. This adoption and experience also allows them to look for prey and attack those that haven’t quite grasped the rules of engagement and awareness about moving more and more information about their lifestyles and social interactions online. As our daily interactions and digital personas move to the Ether, we often leave digital tracks to inform our closest friends about our latest personal developments, which is very powerful. However, we also leave remnants for lurking cyber enemies to identify a blueprint for how we and/or the organizations we work for might be vulnerable to attack.
As we become more and more fixated on privacy, it will be extremely important to focus on how you can protect your identity while evolving your digital persona. We should embrace everything that social media and the Internet affords us in allowing us to connect and/or reconnect to share our lives with friends, family and co-workers. However, be apprehensive about the persistence of the dark side of what this lifestyle also brings. Our personal and business reputations are magnified online. We must use this for good but also realize it can be used against us for evil. Cyber criminals and other threat actors are counting on us to move to what has now become a “virtual reality.” Enjoy your digital life in moderation but do so with caution knowing that a security mindset and general awareness is needed to coexist in this dimension. Protect your identity and your own personal brand online through thoughtful interactions and security best practices that includes software designed to focus on your privacy and protection.