The Importance of Online Security: How Can You Keep Safe?

29 November 2017| Post by Adam

AuthorAdam

Earlier this month, global ride-hailing firm Uber put millions of customers’ data at risk with their security breach. We discuss the importance of increasing online security in a digital age.

Allegedly, the company attempted to hide the breach from their users by paying off hackers. A reported $100,000 was offered to keep the terrifying news quiet. Uber actually announced this themselves and are now under intense government scrutiny. Unsurprisingly, the transport firm’s entire security policy and ethics are now being questioned.

Staying safe

Now that companies are increasingly under scrutiny when it comes to data protection measures, it’s important that we all become more aware of online security. So what can we do as individuals to ensure that we are safe? It’s no longer as easy as keeping your pockets secure when you walk down a busy street. When our entire lives are intertwined with the web, we need to remain vigilant even from the comfort of our living rooms.

How can you increase your online security?

There are several simple ways you can ensure you are active in your data’s security. Here are our top tips for keeping safe in a digital age, whether its personal or business data you’re seeking to protect:

Back up, back up, back up

We can’t stress how important it is to keep a copy of any information you’d rather not lose. A USB or external hard drive are both suitable solutions. Put into place a system whereby you back up your data every day to a portable device and back up to a server every week or month – dependant on what’s suitable for you. Financial and customer records are particularly crucial to back up when you’re running a business. That way, if a breach or any tech malfunctions arise, you won’t have to sheepishly explain to your clients that you’ve lost their information.

However, bear in mind that if a security breach does occur, from April 2018 the GDPR will be effective and you will be legally obliged to inform your customers. Also, remember not to leave your portable device connected to the computer for long periods of time as this will leave your back-ups vulnerable to attacks! 

Up your password game

Everyone knows the importance of having a strong password. However, do you use the same password for every log-in? This is a big no-no. All your accounts could be at risk if someone has your password for just one! Frequently change your passwords (every few months is sufficient) and don’t use anything that contains obvious information like your name or date of birth. Additionally, make use of two-factor authentication to really keep your accounts safe from potential hackers.

Remember to change default passwords after creating a new account or being invited to gain administrative access to an account. 

Keep everything updated

Don’t ignore notifications from anti-spyware and anti-virus software. It’s super important to keep these products up-to-date as they serve the purpose of protecting you specifically from attacks. By the same token, you can keep yourself safe by deleting spam emails without opening them and avoid clicking on any suspicious links or pop-ups. Furthermore, it’s vital to keep your operating system and apps up to date. The reason for updates is usually to install new and exciting features or fix any security issues – the latter is obviously the most important. Aim to always have the latest version of any software installed so you can rest knowing you’re not opening yourself up to potential hacks.

It’s easy to see why attackers target out-of-date browsers and apps. Generally, users put off updating for as long as possible which is a fast-track for cybercriminals.

Make security a part of workplace practice

Educate your employees on good practice when it comes to online security. Likewise, put policies and processes in place for your business which outline the standards you expect. These can refer to how employees, customers and managers access all data whether it be financial, customer-based or sensitive.

Remain vigilant

There are plenty of obvious tactics to increase your online security. However, it’s not always clear how much of an impact these small changes can make.

  • Avoid using public or free Wi-fi networks where possible. It’s just not worth your data being sniffed out by potential online attackers.
  • Always remember to log out of any accounts or social networks, especially if you’ve signed in from a public place. Getting a rude Facebook post on your behalf isn’t the worst thing that can happen!
  • Don’t post sensitive or potentially incriminating information on your social media. This is where the digital and real world really intertwine. Geotagging your posts and gloating about your holiday can leave you open to theft by opportunist criminals.

For more information on increasing cybersecurity at large organisation level, check out the National Cyber Security Centre’s guidance from the Government website.

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