#BYUDevo: Cybersecurity and Spiritual Safety

PROVO, Utah – Dec 09, 2015 – Bonnie Brinton Anderson, Associate Professor in the Information Systems Department of the Marriott School of Management, delivered the devotional address Tuesday afternoon in the Marriott Center. Anderson gave five tips on how to improve computer security behavior, and how those tips parallel the ways we can improve our spiritual behavior.

1. Be attentive to security messages

Because we receive security messages all the time, our brains have become accustomed to  relying on memory rather than processing what the message is saying. This can be dangerous because those security messages often contain pertinent information we need to know.

Anderson said this habituation to security messages sometimes relates to our experiences with the Holy Ghost.

“In a sense, this habituation to security messages is like disregarding the promptings of the Holy Ghost,” Anderson said. “If we don’t act on the promptings of the Holy Ghost, it can be harder for us to be aware of future promptings. We might even tune out the still, small voice.”

“We must be spiritually in tune in order to recognize and be obedient to promptings when they come.”

2. Watch out for phishing emails

Computers often receive emails that seem legitimate, but aren’t. Often times the email looks like it is from your bank or the company you work for. To avoid these “phishing” emails, learn to identify them by checking the source of information.

Just like counterfeit emails are sent under the guise of being legitimate, there is also counterfeit happiness in the world today.

“Similarly, in today’s world we are faced with all kinds of counterfeit happiness. It is so easy these days to become distracted and waste our precious time on mindless entertainment rather than engaging in worthwhile activities such as scripture study or temple attendance.”

3. Keep your software up-to-date

Keep your software up to date. Most software updates are to patch security vulnerabilities or weaknesses in programs. Usually the update is to protect against an attack that’s already been detected.

Just like keeping your software current on your computer helps your computer stay safe, “keeping your temple recommend current helps keep you safe spiritually,” said Anderson.

“We can commit now to keeping ourselves safe from spiritual attacks by living so as to be able to keep a current temple recommend.”

4. Back up your files

Most people will experience data loss due to accidental deletion, or sometimes a more serious computer attack. Ideally, we should be backing up our data in at least three places: the place where you work on them, on a separate storage device, and an off-site database.

Spiritually, backing up our computers can be compared to keeping a journal.

“Keeping a journal…[is] a way of backing-up our memories. We have been counseled to keep a journal,” Anderson said. “Research shows that people who take time to [document things for which they are grateful] are happier, healthier and smarter. And as noted by our church leaders this practice will bring us closer to the Lord and build our testimonies.”

5. Use strong, unique passwords, and a password manager

Many of us have insecure passwords that leave us vulnerable to hackers and identity theft. Using a unique password, like a phrase or a rhyme, makes it harder for hackers to guess. We also shouldn’t use the same password for every website we log in to.

Having good password management is like prayer.

“Sometimes we may find ourselves with casual short prayers that are essentially the same day after day,” Anderson said. “But we are spiritually safer when we take the time to have sincere prayer—long, complicated prayers. While simple prayers are a good thing, we need to periodically truly communicate with our Father in Heaven.”

If you missed Anderson’s address, you can watch it on BYUtv.org.

Next Devotional: President and Sister Worthen

The next BYU Devotional address will be held on Tuesday, January 5, at 11:05 a.m., in the Marriott Center.

President and Sister Worthen will give the Devotional address.

Their remarks will be broadcast live on BYUtv, BYUtv.org, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM, BYU Radio.

Professor Bonnie Brinton Anderson speaking at the weekly campus devotional.

Media Contact: Emily Hellewell (801) 422-4377
Writer: Porter Chelson