When I was growing up the Internet wasn’t public domain, over time the Internet has become “real life” rather than just something that the rich or geeks would use. During the 90’s and even the early 2000’s security wasn’t something that most people were familiar with, it was a very naive world.
IT businesses have matured since then and the Internet has grown to be way of life. Our businesses and homes have multiple devices and regardless of there location they need to be secured. Cyber Security is not just a buzz word, our digital lives need protection just like our physical lives.
What can we do to protect ourselves?
Encrypt your data
Full disc encryption can be very important for businesses in light of the new GDPR legislation. If you deal with sensitive personal data of any kind you must have provisions in place to protect that data.
If you lose your device or it is stolen then encryption protects your data from being accessed someone else and prevents any data breaches. In order to activate encryption follow the below:
Go to the Apple Menu -> System Preferences -> Security & Privacy -> FileVault
Startup encryption will be activated and then the drive will only be readable once you enter password.
Go to Control Panel -> Bitlocker Preferences -> Turn on for access
One thing to be cautious about is if you have disc encryption active make sure you remember your password and keep the recovery key safe. If you do not remember the password then it may become impossible to recover your data.
Keep your devices up to date
If it is possible then keep all devices updated to the latest version of the Operating System. Updating often adds new requested features, but the most important aspect is the security updates that are added, not updating your software puts your machine at risk of malicious attacks.
You should also keep your third party software up to date such as your Browsers and Antivirus software.
Create strong and unique passwords
We see all too often a user has an incredibly simple password, from a four digit pin on a Smartphone to a password on their computer such as Password123 and this is a big no!
Use a complicated password and never use the same password in two different locations. You can use a Password Manager or a password generator that will help you out.
Be careful of phishing attempts
Cyber criminals have adapted to using new ways to try get the information they need to access your systems. They can pose as companies by calling and asking for information, if you give sufficient information out to a Cyber Criminals which is known as “Social Engineering” then your personal assets can be at risk and this can often result in major financial losses.
Avoid public Wi-Fi
Our recommendation is to avoid public wi-fi where possible. Using a public wi-fi connection you are unable to guarantee the safety of your personal data. We are aware of instances where a Cyber Criminal was able to duplicate a public wi-fi and subsequently sniffed the contents of those connecting and used it to steal personal data and banking information.
We recommend to connect via your Smartphone’s hotspot, this will enable a private connection and as it will use a unique name that you have set it will be less likely to be copied.
Multiple backups and off-site
Ransomware has become a major topic for businesses and news outlets, a major threat for web users. Ransomware often begins with a small file or picture, sometimes an e-mail received with a link inviting the reader to open it. Usually they create a very convincing e-mail that appears to come from the readers colleague, friend or even their bank.
If the unsuspecting user clicks on the Ransomware file it will slowly encrypt the users files and then they will contact the infected user and demand money for a key to decrypt the data. Our recommendation is to have a backup in place performing remote backup services and also off-site backups that way if the worst should happen you will have a safe local version that can be restored.
An annual checkup can be useful for both your computer and for you to check on your personal data. There are free sites such as Noddle and ClearScore that offer free credit reports so you can make sure all the data listed is expected.
There are other sites that can check if your personal data has been breached such as haveibeenpwned.com that will let you know if any of your passwords have been breached.
Annual computer checkups are also essential, unless you have adequate protection installed then you may need a checkup, kind of like a car service but for your computer. An annual service will do things such as checking all essential security updates are applied, making sure your Antivirus software is installed and updated. Checking passwords are secure enough, making sure all other software is updated.
Secure your online presence
Social Media is very popular, these days the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn is used by millions. If you have a profile on one of these sites consider the personal information you make available, information such as your Date Of Birth, Address, Contact Number and even personal pictures.
We recommend you change your privacy settings to make sure the information is not accessible to strangers, but there also is the possibility that a Cyber Criminal could use a friend on Social Media to gain more information about you, so careful in general about the information you decide to share outside of your own family.
Educate – Reduce bad habits
Both businesses and home users need to put into practice policies that are often in place within companies, unfortunately over time these policies are often disregarded or rules are broken forming unnecessary bad habits.
It is important to follow the policies set out within your business and if there are no strict I.T policies then there should be. If you are reading this and you are not responsible for your companies I.T then we suggest you forward the article to the person who is in charge.
We assist with educating employees on the best practices and setting up the required I.T policies.
“The knock-on effect of a data breach can be devastating for a company. When customers start taking their business—and their money—elsewhere, that can be a real body blow.” Christopher Graham