Be careful on the Web

Of all the activity taking place on the Web, especially with social networks such as Facebook, and so many others, we've come to accept that personal privacy is vanishing rapidly. Embarrassing items posted out there certainly don't have any automatic self-destruct features and, therefore, will probably persist online to dog your steps while you're here and long after you've left this mortal realm.

While that fact might not have an immediate connection to the industrial world, many plants might have a communication system or two that are dependent on the existence of that Web for their functionality. Merely being connected to the Internet, even through a robust firewall, might have a bit of a downside if some nefarious person also is sufficiently clever.

You’ve heard the many news items about hackers getting into the computers of unsuspecting corporate systems, perhaps causing them the crash after successfully stealing important private personal data.

Researchers at Georgia Tech are trying to come to the rescue. “Tackling Global Cybersecurity Threats,” an article by Abby Robinson, discusses the many varieties of attacks that can be waged against unsuspecting systems. You’ll find the article on page 6 of the PDF that opens in your browser.

Have you heard of something called drive-by download? It happens when you’re enticed to visit some website you’ve not heard of before. The malicious software infects your machine undetected. According to Robinson, the most numerous “drive-by download exploits included Adobe Acrobat Reader, Sun Java and Adobe Flash.” And, for the truly paranoid, your cell phone also can be a target.

You might want to pass this information to your trusty IT department. Meanwhile, take care when you’re online. Sometimes there’s no backtracking allowed.