The Digital Skeptic: If You Want to Be Safe Online, Have Less Stuff

NEW YORK (TheStreet) --Chris Doggett has this to say to Jay-Z, Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Mel Gibson, Ashton Kutcher, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, The Associated Press -- and all the other supposedly above-the-street celebs, politicos and media companies who just can't seem to keep their online selves from getting stolen.

"You want the Internet to be as safe as possible?" Doggett told me on the phone about a month ago. "You want to be touching as little of it as possible."


Doggett is not guessing about what it takes to stay secure in today's digital slum. He's head of North American corporate sales for Kaspersky Lab, the Woburn, Mass., security firm. And to this geek's credit, he's become a brother in skeptical arms about the reality of not being the next AP Twitter hack victim here in the Internet hood.

"You want to be turning off as much of the Web as you can," he said.

Let me repeat that long and loud, investors: He said TURN OFF AS MUCH OF THE INTERNET AS YOU CAN.

What goes first?

"You know that piece of software called Java that is always updating on your PC? People put that on there for some dumb game," he explained. "But most folks don't use it. It's very easy to attack old versions of it. New exploits are created all the time."

So we all just go into our computers and uninstall it?

"Exactly," Doggett said. "Your PC will be a lot safer. Just turn it off."

What else can go? The Adobe Flash Player. Doggett explained that unless you watch a lot of videos or run Flash-intensive apps or otherwise need it, this app is better off a goner, an opinion shared by a surprising number of leery Web users.


Flash is "buggy. It crashes a lot. It requires constant security updates," is the line I love from the must-read Occupy Flash website, where anti-Flash sentiment is organizing online. "It's a fossil, left over from the era of closed standards and unilateral corporate control of web technology."