I grew up with Windows. Starting at age 6 or 7, I remember using Windows XP to draw nonsense with MS Paint and then a few years later play minesweeper on Vista. Then came the much improved Windows 7. In middle school, I wrote my essays with Word 2010 and Skyped from my Windows laptop. In high school I transitioned from Windows to Mac and was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t have to deal with annoying popups and slowdowns from Norton, McAffee, and other antivirus software. I also liked the streamlined UI, the Unix backing, and the integration with my iPhone. I liked the sleek-looking high performance hardware. What I didn’t like was the price tag. To get the same hardware in a Dell or HP is about 20% less. In addition, as a business major and having interned in a financial firm, I found that the business world is heavily saturated with Windows PCs. Thus, for college I bought a Dell XPS. The laptop came with Windows 10 which claims to have it own proprietary virus protection – Windows Defender. In a world where data hacks and cyber terrorism is always in the news I wanted to make sure that I used proper protection.
As I write this, I have found that Windows has made great improvements to their integrated anti-virus. When I got my computer in late summer there were many articles circulating claiming its inefficacy. One of such articles was written by AV-TEST Institute (https://www.av-test.org/en/) who’s sole purpose is to test antivirus software and provide unbiased ratings. In the most recent test, it was given much better marks due to Windows Creator Update in the fall. A whole new host of features was added that amounted to a 7.5 on the Institute’s scale. This put it in a tie with industry leading Norton, McAffee, and Kaspersky. Before this update, I relied on a strong firewall and simple antivirus scan every week or so. The performance hit that a computer takes with constant monitoring was detrimental to my workflow and actually quite annoying. I was careful but still very vulnerable. I did not have a true understanding of a firewall and it’s somewhat limited capability until class.
In reality, my data is probably sitting in some hacker’s hard drive waiting to be utilized for malevolence. Consumers need to be more wary of information that is guarded by companies rather than the information on their personal computer. The amount of breaches that have gone unnoticed or are discovered years later are constantly multiplying. Uber took a whole year to release that over 60,000 users passwords, names, and email addresses were compromised. The economic hit that a company takes when consumers realize that they have been compromised can be fatal to a startup company. Interestingly, Uber recovered and escaped too much media attention by firing their CSO (the sexual harassment suits might have deflected some attention). Ebay in 2014 released news that personal information of 145 million people had been breached. They also did not suffer from significant revenue loss. This minimal reaction to data breach is very concerning. I think there is currently a climate where people believe that their information is not safe anyway. In the news, the average person sees that Facebook is selling their info and that Equifax was hacking. At a certain point it becomes white noise. Fortunately, there are many failsafes for account security, stolen credit card information, and identity fraud. The field of cyber security is becoming more and more relevant and the complex processes that are not only protecting your data but saving you from how hackers use that data are making us naive. After learning more about encryption and information security – I have since encrypted my important data and ensured that it is in a physically safe place.