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7 Min Read

Thinking Security: Security Hygiene in the New Normal

January 5, 2021 / Mike Kain

This is the 43rd blog in a series about security and how security is about how you think.

All I can think of is the old proverb that says, “We live in interesting times” when I think about what we and the world have weathered in just this year alone. I don’t think anyone would have forecast for the year 2020 a year that would be this disruptive and that the world would massively change around us the way that it has and the way that it will. I read one article that said that some things would never be the same. For example, greeting people with a handshake in some cultures may never happen again, changing to other customs like bowing or a wave. That’s one of the massive changes that are happening because people are more concerned about hygiene, both their own and the world around them. Wearing a mask in public may change from an isolated practice to the new normal.

Some people will be more comfortable returning quickly to “normal” because they’re ready to continue life from where they were; some people will be more cautious as to the policies and procedures of the new world order to ensure that we don’t have additional spikes or periods of virus. The safety of the world will come down to some consistent hygiene practices that will ensure that there are no significant outbreaks. None of these practices are complicated, but they provide due diligence if everyone follows them that we’ll all be safe. Some of these hygiene practices are “Wear a mask if you’re out in public”, “wash your hands frequently”, and “don’t go out if you’re sick.” These are all simple, no nonsense, recommendations that everyone understands.

In computer security, we also have simple “hygiene” practices that we recommend that do the same result – provide safety if everyone follows them. “Don’t click on attachments,” “validate sources of email before trusting (anti-phishing)” and “ensure all links before clicking” are several of the security hygiene practices that are preached by our CISO and the training courses in information security. By doing these simple and straightforward actions, the safety of all is greatly improved. But we also must remain diligent, not just for one virus, malware, or trick campaign, but all of them. We have many viruses that start, become “hot,” and then wane away, but not completely. It’s being diligent all the time so that we are always secure.

In Unisys, we are extremely well positioned to be secure and to help our many clients be secure. Starting with ClearPath Forward®, we have platforms which offer strong protection against viruses, malware and other security “diseases.” From the secure architecture upward, ClearPath Forward® systems are better protected from compromise compared to other commodity systems. I only wish I could have that type of immunity for all the viruses and diseases that are out in the world.

The other product that helps Unisys and our clients to be secure is Unisys Stealth® and especially, its Dynamic Isolation feature. Think of this feature in terms of our current pandemic, if you were sick and compromised, you would be isolated automatically so that you couldn’t infect anyone else. Stealth™ constantly monitors each system to see if that system is compromised and quickly and automatically isolates the system from the rest of the network. A system is automatically quarantined until the system is cleansed and not a risk to the rest of the network.

Hygiene practices in both medicine and security are simple, no nonsense procedures which give everyone a good base for being safe and secure. There is no extensive list of all procedures to be safe and secure because the world is an ever-changing place. What these practices help us do is also to change our thinking about how to stay safe and secure. Will we feel differently if we see a place that isn’t being sanitary? Does it change the way we THINK about safety and cleanliness? How do we do that in computer security?

Unfortunately, some people only change the way they think when large events like this pandemic happen or your system has become compromised with a computer virus. To be secure, you must THINK in this way every day. By adopting small, simple, no nonsense procedures and policies you can raise your level of safety and security quickly. And by large scale adoption of these procedures and policies, we can increase the level of safety and security in the world at large. Safety and security really come down to the way you THINK about them and how you THINK about the world around you. Stay safe.