What We Can Learn From the Recent U.S. Elections Email Breach
When Hillary Clinton lost the US presidential elections, US citizens, political analysts, and global netizens alike began dissecting why the candidate who everyone predicted would win didn’t. Theories have circulated and there were those who blame the media for favoring one candidate over the other.
Reportedly, Clinton supporters blamed the loss on FBI Director John Comey who, with the elections just 2 weeks away, notified Congress that they would be reinvestigating the email leak controversy involving Clinton that first came to public knowledge in March 2015. It was already widely known that Clinton, during her term as US Secretary of State, had used her own personal email server in official correspondences instead of using the official State Department email accounts which are protected by federal servers. Most of these emails were deemed “classified” and considered highly sensitive.
Two days before the election, Comey notified the Congress that the initial conclusion they had reached on Clinton’s use of a personal server had not changed; she was “extremely careless” but otherwise would not be charged. However, the damage had been done, many believe.
While the emails revealed an otherwise ordinary campaign exchange and did not expose anything that qualified as scandalous or controversial, the leaked emails and FBI investigation left an impression on the American voters that Clinton was irresponsible and unethical.
What we can learn
So while there are those still reeling from the election results, there are those who are focusing on another disturbing revelation. If a system as sophisticated as that of the US Secretary of State used was breached, how easy is it for someone to hack our personal computers, access our websites without authority, threaten our reputations and livelihood?
Because we acknowledge that the threat is real and can happen on any scale, we need to arm ourselves and our businesses constantly. Here’s what you can do the increase the cyber security of your personal accounts or online business:
• Use a secure network — Make sure that your multi-user software has the best authentication and authorization features available. Install antivirus and anti-malware software; keep them updated.
• Educate your employees — Train your staff to create strong usernames and passwords. Teach them to be cautious of websites or emails that they may find suspicious. One click could compromise your entire system. Secure hardware like laptops and mobile phones when business is closed.
• Protect all company records — Encrypt all confidential data and perform periodic backups. If possible, make backup copies and store them outside your network. Change passwords every six months or less. Minimize your file uploads. Limit the access to sensitive data to those it is relevant to.
• Don’t use open wifi connections — Many hackers can easily enter poorly protected networks. The ideal solution is not to have any wireless connections at all. But if that is not an option, ensure that you disable the SSID broadcasting function to make you invisible from nonemployees.
• Choose a reliable cloud provider — Do not base your choice on price. Read reviews and find a vendor that will secure your data even if it will cost you a bit more. Keep private data out of the cloud.
The data breach on the Clinton was an unfortunate one that may have cost her the election. And there is something that both the government and we can all learn from it.