Do I need to care about Cyber Security?  What is the risk?

 

"It's not a matter of if you will get hacked, but a matter of when"

Cyber security – defined as the protection of systems, networks and data in cyberspace – is a critical issue for all homes businesses. Cybercriminals don’t discriminate.  Where there is a weakness, they will try to exploit it. 

 

Therefore, all organisations need to understand the cyber threats they face and safeguard against them.  Here are our top tips for keeping your data safe:

1. Protect against viruses, malware and hackers

 

Before you go online with any device, you should make sure it is installed with business grade anti-virus and anti-malware software, keep it up-to-date and run regular scans. This should keep you protected from virus and malware infiltration.  However, a more sophisticated type of malicious software, known as ransomware, poses a much greater threat.

Usually installed within an email attachment or unsecured website, ransomware is designed to block access to data files on a computer system until a sum of money is paid.  You are literally held to ransom!  Accessing any of these infected files will trigger the ransomware, which then locks the computer screen and, behind the scenes, encrypts the data files on any hard drive or connected device.  A window pops up saying your computer has been blocked, along with the amount in Bitcoins (crypto-currency) required to unlock the system.  Paying the ransom is high risk. There is no guarantee that you will gain access to your PC or files again.Hacking is a more direct attack where your broadband connection is used as the point of entry into your network and any attached devices.  You need to ensure that the Firewall on your Router is enabled together with this feature, which is included on most anti-virus software.

2. Back up your data

 

How important is your data to you?  What would happen to your business if your hard drive failed, got corrupted by a virus, suffered liquid damage or the device it was in got stolen?  The pyhsical PC or laptop can be replaced, so can the application software, but not your data.  RuralTech recommends backing up your data to an external hard drive on a daily, weekly and monthly cycle and also, if possible, off-site, to a Cloud provider. There is a range of software and secure options, including data encryption, to choose from.

 

3. Update your operating system

The majority of people have a PC or laptop using Apple OS or Microsoft Windows.  These need software updates on a regular basis to patch the gaps in order to keep the criminals out.

 

4. Guard your personal information

It is surprisingly easy to inadvertently give away your personal information online, especially when prompted to do so by an email or on social networking sites. Phishing scams are typically fraudulent email messages, appearing to come from legitimate businesses such as your bank or other financial institution.  It might state that you are receiving the message due to fraudulent activity on your account and ask you to “click here” to verify your information. The “website” you are taken to looks like the real deal, but as you enter your details, there is a criminal using them to log on to the real one arranging a one-off money transfer to empty your account.  Remember, financial institutions will never send you an email requesting confirmation of your details. Why? Because they already have them. Be alert when opening email messages.  Do not click on any links or open any attachments within an email that look suspicious or that you were not expecting.

Social media is the other main area of weakness.  Hackers, burglars and identity thieves gather personal information from social media sites. Be cautious about revealing personal and private details and make sure you are happy with your privacy settings.

 

5.  Check for secure sites

How do you know you are visiting a secure website and that it is safe to make an online purchase?  A bad website could encrypt your personal information and card details and within seconds, your credit card is taken to the limit or bank account completely emptied. There are two things to look out for.  Firstly, the web address in the address bar should begin with https:// (the ‘s’ stands for secure) and secondly, there should be a small padlock symbol in the address bar (or elsewhere in your browser window). Also, depending on your anti-virus, you might have a “Safe Money” browser, which automatically appears when it detects a website you are about to enter payment details in to. 

 

If you need to review your cyber security, please contact us to discuss the options available to you.

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