By: Tim O’Pry | Chief Security Officer
Over the years (decades), I have been asked for tips on everything from starting a business to the perfunctory cocktail question of, “What do you do?”. Regardless of the question, the answer is the same: I manage failure points.
That answer tends to end most casual cocktail conversation with an odd stare—which is fine by me—but, with a little explanation, I feel it’s an accurate description of not only managing a business, but of most processes in life.
There are three steps to this methodology:
Identification – First and foremost, you must be able to identify what is most likely to go wrong and which of those you can actually prevent, control, and/or mitigate.
Preparation – What is the likelihood and order of occurrence of the failure points? What can you do to either lessen their probability or limit their damage?
Mitigation – Once they do occur, how do you handle them?
Those problems that are highly unlikely/improbable or you can do little to control, even if they could be catastrophic, should not be your focus. Many times, it’s the “little things” that do you in, but because they seem minor at the time, we tend to push them off for later. Like the parable of slowly boiling a frog—if you put a frog in a pan of water and increase the temperature slowly, they get complacent, even doze off in the warm water, until it’s too late—a small problem ignored today can grow to one that cripples you tomorrow.
This practice also helps you maintain perspective. Anything we try to accomplish in life has hurdles to overcome. Some barely stretch our legs, others smack us square in the groin. Being comfortable with the number, size, and type of hurdles you are likely to encounter and knowing ahead of time how you will tackle them, helps instill confidence and the conviction that you are doing the right things. While fear is the strongest of human emotions, self-doubt is the most destructive.
When unexpected problems arise (just like no battle plan survives the first engagement, no plan of any complexity will either), be prepared to re-assess, re-adjust, and re-focus.
How does this apply to personal cybersecurity you might ask? For most of us, cybersecurity is something we rarely think of and when we do, many get locked into the fear of getting started. As we approach the start of a new year, make an early resolution to take the first step: Start using a password manager (at Henssler Financial, we recommend LastPass).
Identification: Your website login information being compromised is the single most likely cybersecurity threat you will face.
Preparation: Likelihood – VERY HIGH. Odds are, some of your personal information has been compromised for years and is available on the Dark Web. Use this site to check your email address.
Mitigation: Use a password manager and have different login identifiers and passwords for EVERY site. WHEN one of your websites is compromised, it does not affect the others, and you need only change the information on the one compromised site.
If you were to do but one thing only to enhance your personal security online, it should be this. Once you have taken this first step, the rest will be much easier. [For more details please see our Cybersecurity 101 article here.]