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January 10th 2018

Cyber security

With the never ending list of big company “hacks” and “breaches” in the news, keeping secure online is now a major concern for any modern business. We’ve got some simple tips for keeping you and your business secure.

Our top cyber security tips...

Passwords and pins

Good passwords are often your first, and only, line of defence in the cyber world, and while mashing your hand randomly on the keyboard produces a secure password, it’s also important to be able remember it.

A good password has more than one dictionary word and a few numbers and symbols.

So, if you have a love of flowers, try not to go for a password such as “Marigold”, rather something along the lines of “Yell0w&M4rigold” – replacing letters with numbers also makes it harder to “hack” – because it stops them being dictionary words.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

This means having to provide a few different methods to gain access to an account

While not everything uses MFA, it’s wise to use it whenever you can. This can mean entering a password, then also having to enter a code that is emailed, or texted to you whenever you’re signing in from a new device you haven’t used before.

While it may be a bit of a pest if you log in to a new device, it means if someone does get a hold of, or guesses your password, they would still need to have access to your phone, or email account to get into sensitive information.

Biometrics

Certain devices, such as modern smartphones, Windows 10 and some Macs can also use “biometrics”, such as fingerprints or face and voice recognition, handy for some, but the technology isn’t flawless, and can often mean putting in a password or pin anyway.

Secure your computer

this applies to Apple Macs as well!

First things first – antivirus (or anti-malware) software is a must have if you’re using the internet, or even plugging in a pen drive to your device.

The highest recommended antivirus changes from month to month, but generally Avast, Kaspersky, AVG, McAfee and Malwarebytes are highly rated for personal, and small business use. At the very least, the free versions can provide basic protection, although paid versions typically come with a lot more features – most of them quite handy.

Antivirus software usually monitors what files are downloaded, scans them for threats, as well as steering you away from malicious websites, and even emails. They are also used to remove malicious software from your device and can be used to scan external devices such as CDs and pen drives – Yes, a virus can come on a disk.

Again, this is vital if there’s a way for something you haven’t created to get onto your device. Even more critical if there’s a few devices on your network, with shared and sensitive information.

Secure everything else

Passwords on your work computer are vital. But, they are all for nothing if you have information sitting on a pen drive, unsecured home PC, or printed out on paper sitting in your glovebox.

Be careful what you do with sensitive information. A pen drive can very easily be dropped, paper forgotten, and a PC away from work might be less secure than it should be. It’s little instances like these that make the news.

These are extreme situations, but nobody wants it to happen to them, no matter the scale. Not only is it a massive inconvenience, but improper security of sensitive information is breaking the law, and with the GDPR coming into effect this May, you need to make sure you’re doing all that is required.

Your information

Finally, you need to know what information should be given out, and what shouldn’t. Bank information is of course the number one thought, they will no doubt have told you “Never tell anyone your pin” or “Be careful of over the phone fraud”, but now, it’s a little more than that.

Your email address is more important than you think. If you have several online accounts, they are probably connected to your email, all using your name, maybe your address, and probably your phone number, maybe linked to a credit card?

With all this information, an individual could be rather malicious. Identity theft is more common than ever, and can fall into a rabbit warren of problems, especially when our email account can link into everything else we work with, complete with an organised history.

Typically, your antivirus, or internet browser should steer you away from malicious sites, as mentioned, but when you’re putting in this information, or even a password, have a quick check the address bar for a small padlock symbol, “https” or “Secure”.

This is essentially to make sure that the connection between you and the website is secure and encrypted, meaning that if anyone were to be looking in from the side at the technology conversation between you and the website, they wouldn’t have a clue as to what was being said.

And, if you’d like to know a little more about what access a website has, click the padlock.

If you have concern over a webpage, email, or potential malware – get in contact with our IT Support team

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