When we think of cyber crime, we tend to think only of hackers stealing financial information. This is the main risk for businesses, but cyber crime is a many-headed hydra, which includes – but is not limited to – direct theft of money, theft of data, bullying, harassment, revenge porn and cyber stalking. It’s insidious and potentially devastating.
So how do you even begin to fight something so sinister? The key is preparation. Cyber criminals are rarely the masterminds they’re portrayed as; they’re lazy, amoral lowlifes looking for an easy target. If you’re careful and prepared, they’re likely to overlook you in favour of someone more naive. Follow our common sense tips, which come courtesy of Syntax IT Support London, so you can use the web securely.
Outsource your IT support
If you’re a business owner, hiring, training and paying in-house IT staff is an expensive, time consuming process, and it doesn’t always provide you with the best protection. No matter how well versed an office’s IT expert is in the latest computer software, they live a sheltered life, and might not have the experience necessary to fight off the newest form of malware or expel it from your network. That’s why, for the best IT support, you should look to outsourcing companies.
When it comes it outsourcing, UK businesses have access to a wide range of companies staffed with expert, experienced staff whose sole job is to protect you against cyber crime. You only pay as and when you need them, and they will help to make your business more competitive by giving you access to all the latest tech.
Use strong passwords
Using your pet’s name across all your online accounts might be easy to remember, but it’s also easy to guess with a quick glance at your social media. Use a different password for every account, make it at least 10 characters long and a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. You should also change them regularly.
If you’re worried about remembering them all, a password management application creates complex passwords you can access easily.
Keep your software updated
Whenever that ‘update required’ notification pops up, it’s tempting to just click ‘remind me later’, possibly every time you turn on your laptop for the next 6 months. But it’s worth putting aside time to keep all your software, particularly security software, updated. Cyber criminals are on the lookout for flaws in your firewalls and out of date protection they can exploit to gain access to your system. Don’t give them the chance.
Strengthen your Wi-Fi security
Public Wi-Fi, whether it’s a cafe, library or airport, is never very secure, since it needs to be easily accessible to perhaps hundreds of people at once. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts all data leaving your devices until it reaches its destination. If any hacker does manage to intercept it, all they will get is some encrypted data.
Check your social media settings
Go into your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram settings and ensure that all your accounts are set to private. You should be able to use social media to share your life with your loved ones openly, but if a cyber criminal can easily see your account and discover your pet’s name and your mother’s maiden name, then they instantly know the answer to two of the most common security questions.
Look out for personal identity theft
Sometimes a gut feeling is all that stands between you and financial ruin. Cyber criminals often use fraud or deceptive means, rather than an outright malware attack, to gain access to your personal information, which they will then use to rob or blackmail you. If an email from your bank feels strangely informal, a link looks a bit too complex or ‘off’, or even if a Facebook friend doesn’t sound like themselves in a message, don’t open or download anything. Contact the person or company that might have contacted youand ask them to confirm the communication.