Every time you go online, your personal privacy is at risk – it’s as simple as that. Whether you’re creating an account on a website, shopping, or just browsing, information like your email, IP address and browsing history are potential targets for interested parties.
All too often, that information is sold on or sometimes even stolen without you even knowing it. And the threats to our online privacy and security are evolving. Fast.
As F-Secure’s Online Protection Service Lead, Christine Bejerasco’s job is to make life online safer and more secure.
“We’re basically online defenders. And when your job is to create solutions that help protect people, the criminals and attackers you’re protecting them against always step up their game. So it’s like an arms race. They come up with new ways of attacking users and our job is to outsmart them and defend our users,” Christine says.
Sounds pretty dramatic, right? Well that’s because it is. While it used to be that the biggest threat to your online privacy was spam and viruses, the risks of today and tomorrow are potentially way more serious.
“Right now we’re in the middle of different waves of ransomware. That’s basically malware that turns people’s files into formats they can’t use. We’ve already seen cases of companies and individual people having their systems and files hijacked for ransom. It’s serious stuff and in many cases very sad. If your online assets aren’t protected right now you should kind of feel like you’re going to bed at night with your front door not only unlocked but wide open.”
Christine and her team of 11 online security superheroes (eight full-time members and three super-talented interns) are on the case in Helsinki.
Here’s more on Christine and her work in her own words:
Where are you from?
Where do you live and work?
I live in Espoo and work at F-Secure in Ruoholahti, Helsinki.
Describe your job in 160 characters or less?
Online guardian who strives to give F-Secure users a worry-free online experience.
One word that best describes your work?
How long is a typical work day for you?
There is no typical workday. It ranges from 6 – 13 hours, depending on what’s happening.
What sparked your interest in online security?
At the start it was just a job. As a computer science graduate, I was just looking for a job where I could do something related to my field. And then when I joined a software security company in the Philippines, I was introduced to this world of online threats and it’s really hard to leave all the excitement behind. So I’ve stayed in the industry ever since.
Craziest story you’ve ever heard about online protection breach?
Ashley Madison. Some people thought it was just a funny story, but it had pretty serious consequences for some of the people on that list.
Does it frustrate you that so many people don’t care about protecting their online privacy?
Yeah, it definitely does. But you grow to understand that people don’t value things until they lose it. It’s like insurance. You don’t think about it until something bad happens and then you care.
What’s your greatest work achievement?
Shaping the online protection service in the Labs from its starting stages to where we are today.
What’s your idea of happiness?
Road trips and a bottle of really good beer.
Which (non-work-related) talent would you most like to have?
Hmmm… tough. Maybe, stock-market prediction skills?
What are your favorite apps?
What blogs do you like?
Security blogs (F-Secure Security blog of course and others – too many to list.)
Self-Help Blogs (Zen Habits, Marc and Angel, etc.)
Who do you admire most?
I admire quite a few people for different reasons. Warren Buffett for his intensity, simplicity and generosity. Mikko Hyppönen for his idealism and undying dedication to the online security fight. And Mother Theresa for embodying the true meaning of how being alive is like being in school for your soul.
Do you ever, ever go online without protection?
Not with systems associated to me personally, or with someone else. But of course, when we are analyzing online threats, then yes.