Episode 93 |

Avoiding Cyber Threats Through Smart Security with Tom Patterson

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This Week’s Guest:

Imagine a world in which just about everything about you (from your location to what you do online to everything on your TV) is tracked by various machines and companies and is then sold — after you willingly give away your rights to this information. A world in which there’s a second version of the internet, full of people selling nefarious services. A world including innumerable people ready to steal your entire online identity and then ransom it back to you.


As today’s guest, Tom Patterson reveals, that’s exactly the world we live in now. Tom, who has over three decades of leading-edge security experience, is the Chief Trust Officer at Unisys. He has lectured extensively at security, notably at Cal Poly and the Wharton School. Thanks to his high-level security clearance, he has also worked with federal law enforcement and the US Congress in security capacities. Today, he’s here to teach you some tips and tricks to help you stay safe in an increasingly risky world.


Find Out More About Tom Here:

Tom Patterson on LinkedIn
Tom Talks
Tom Patterson of Unisys


In This Episode:


  • [02:24] – Tom discusses what he believes we regular people need to do to protect ourselves from a privacy and security standpoint. In his answer, he points out that the world is changing around us, so we need to change with it.
  • [04:17] – Security is more and more a part of the public psyche, Tom explains. He then talks about ransomware, which generally happens to people through phishing.
  • [08:46] – Stephan recaps what Tom has been saying to make it clear for listeners. Tom then expands on what Stephan has said.
  • [10:01] – Is there insurance to cover losses through phishing and similar scams?
  • [10:35] – Stephan gives an example of a very clever phishing technique that may have caught people off-guard. Tom then gives another example.
  • [12:51] – Stephan’s aunt was scammed not too long ago, he reveals.
  • [14:20] – We hear about another example that Stephan has seen in a Black Mirror episode, which Tom reveals is taken from real life. Stephan and Tom then talk about putting bandaids or tape over computer cameras.
  • [16:35] – Tom shares some ways you can better protect yourself. The first of these is to stop giving things away and make conscious trades about privacy invasion, which he discusses in great detail.
  • [19:42] – You can sometimes change permissions, Stephan explains. Tom then points out how hard these settings often are to find.
  • [22:46] – Another step in protecting yourself is by making it harder for the bad guys. People are generally using better, more complex passwords now — but the problem is that they are now using that one complex password everywhere.
  • [26:06] – Tom advises lying in one particular instance: the security questions for forgotten passwords.
  • [27:22] – There is one foolproof way not to click on dangerous links in phishing emails, Tom explains: don’t click on any links. If you get an email from your bank, for example, close that email, open a new web browser session, and go to your bank’s website directly.
  • [29:00] – What does Tom think about password managers to keep track of your various complex passwords or passphrases?
  • [30:36] – Tom offers another piece of advice, which is to turn off your computer and leave your phone outside the room if you’re going to have a sensitive business conversation. Computers can easily be turned into bugging devices.
  • [32:13] – How does this work in terms of devices such as, for example, Amazon Echo? Should listeners get rid of these devices?
  • [34:20] – Tom shares another easy, free step to be more secure: turn off automatic images in your email.
  • [35:27] – Tom differentiates between malware and adware. Stephan then talks about an example of nasty adware.
  • [37:25] – Does Tom have tips or tools for how to remove adware or malware?
  • [39:24] – We learn more about two-factor authentication and biometrics. What’s coming into play in the future, though, is behavioral biometrics, which Tom explains in some depth.
  • [43:01] – Stephan points out why two-factor authentication is particularly important for Google and Facebook.
  • [44:33] – What is the Dark Web, and why should we care about it?
  • [46:59] – There are a dozen or so anonymous currencies used on the dark web, of which Bitcoin is the most popular.
  • [48:00] – Tom talks more about Bitcoin
  • [49:43] – We learn more about finding things on the dark web, which often requires you to build up a dark web reputation first.
  • [51:08] – What tips would Tom like to recommend in terms of protecting yourself from identity theft?
  • [53:40] – Tom talks about his high-level security clearance, touching on how people can get cleared and what the downside is. He also shares the advice that he gives to teenagers.


Links and Resources:

Tom Patterson on LinkedIn
Tom Talks
Tom Patterson of Unisys
Cal Poly
Wharton School
Cyber insurance
Black Mirror
Cyber extortion
Vizio privacy scandal
Dark Web
Behavioral biometrics
Amazon Echo
Two-factor authentication
Internet of Things
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)



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