Back To Basics

Start talking ‘cyber’ with somebody who has a technical background and within about 5 mins you will start to glaze over.

Trust me you will, how do I know? Because I talk about cyber, I have a technical background and I have seen that look too many times!

So let’s get back to basics. This article is about 800 words in length and as the average mental reading speed is around 250 words per minute means that you can plough through this in less time than a commercial break in your favourite soap opera, or the time you wait queuing to get your skinny sugar free vanilla latte.

I’m just going to cover off on five key topics of good cyber hygiene, for you. If you remember two and take action on one then I’ll class that as a ‘win’. Here we go…

  1. Passwords

Treat your password(s) like you treat your toothbrush. Never share! If any of your passwords are something like ‘dog123’, because you find it ‘easy’ to remember, then you need to change them NOW. People who still have passwords like that probably need to be told to not run with scissors.

Start using a ‘strong’ password which consists of at least six characters (and the more characters, the stronger the password) that are a combination of letters, numbers and symbols (@, #, $, %, etc.) if allowed. Passwords are typically case-sensitive, so a strong password contains letters in both uppercase and lowercase

Don’t use the same password for everything and I know so many of your do. Why? Because if it got compromised and stolen from a site you used once two years ago to get that last minute pressie then some cyber criminal will immediately use it against other sites and see if they ‘strike lucky’. Different site, different password!

  1. eMail

Keep your business and personal email completely separate. We’ve all seen how politicians in the USA are starting to be exposed for using AOL / GMail and other such services for work related business.

It may be easy, but it’s not good practise. Why? Because if you do that quick trick of ‘emailing yourself some work documents to your personal email to finish them off at home,’ you could technically be creating a data breach.

Don’t do that, really don’t do that. If your company can’t provide you with facilities to work remotely properly, then have a chat with your IT manager and ask him if he is happy for you to cause a data breach. They won’t be!

  1. AntiVirus / AntiMalware

Have you got an up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware solution? If not, get one! Get one today. One from a reputable source. Install it on all your devices: desktops, laptops, tablets and phones!

  1. Software Updates

How often does your computer, or phone start telling you that updates are available for your software and you click ‘not now; later’, as you are busy watching another video of a cat losing its balance? Well don’t do that anymore. If there is an update to install, please update it sooner rather than later.

The teams of programmers who feverishly work on this software know a lot more about its security shortfalls then they are willing to publicly acknowledge. Behind the flashy headlines of any sexy new functionality they are providing will be a raft of fixes for discovered vulnerabilities.

If there is an update, install it. It’s that simple.

  1. Websites And Cloud Services

How many websites and cloud services do you use? FaceBook, Amazon, eBay? How about DropBox, Evernote, GMail? Pretty much all of them now provide an additional level of security called ‘Two factor authentication / Two step verification’.

What this means is that when you log in with your usual username and password you will be prompted to also enter a unique code that has a time limit associated with it – it will expire within a couple of minutes. These codes can be sent to you by text, or you can use a code generator application, such as Google Authenticator.

It is well worth spending a little bit of time investigating and implementing this. In fact, I’d go as far to say that if site you regularly use don’t provide this additional level of security, then you may want to consider an alternative site, or service. Google do a very good explanation of Two step verification here, so take some time to review it when you have that second coffee today!

So there we go, five points on cyber security to get you to a very basic level. You can go further, much further, but do these on your personal devices and you will be far more secure than many of your friends and colleagues.

Enjoy your coffee.

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