Posted by Martijn Grooten on Dec 13, 2017
During the upcoming holiday season, many security professionals will be visiting relatives and, during their visit, being asked to fulfil the role of ad-hoc tech support.
Apart from removing the Ask toolbar from their browser, this is a great opportunity to improve the security of their devices more permanently. This is also when one realizes that different people have different threat models, and thus different security requirements. Your own privacy concerns about social media, for instance, may not be shared by others, who value convenience more often. Someone who's mostly worried about the security of online banking shouldn't care as much about physical access to their devices as someone who has been in an abusive relationship.
This is why I am really excited about the Security Planner, launched by Citizen Lab this week. It lets the subject answer a few questions about the threats they are concerned about and, based on their answers, gives practical advice as to how they can make themselves more secure.
Of course, given Citizen Lab's focus on attacks faced by the human rights community, people with these kinds of threat models are well served by the Security Planner, and I really like how it urges people who face actual threats to seek emergency support; for some threat models, an online 'HowTo' simply isn't good enough.
Meanwhile, the guide also provides helpful advice for the relative who only uses the Internet to check Facebook and to buy the occasional item from an online shop.
Finally, if your relatives really don't want to discuss threat models with you, and they expect you to just tell them what to do, Robert Graham's Holiday Cybersecurity Guide gives some practical advice that should work for anyone, meaning that everyone can enjoy happy and cyber-safe holidays.