CYBER SECURITY TIPS
- It CAN happen to you. Your computer and your data are valuable and attacks are fully automated so you can be a victim no matter who you are
- You need proper antivirus, even on a Mac
- Use a strong password (minimum 10 characters, mix of upper and lowercase letters and numbers, and some special characters) for each account, and use different passwords for every account.
- Use a password manager to keep track of your passwords so you don’t have to try to remember them.
- Don’t click on links in emails (or social media) unless you are absolutely certain you know where it will take you. Rather go the website by typing in the address directly.
- Back-up your data and check regularly that your backups are working. Backing up to an external hard drive is NOT a proper backup unless you take that drive away to another location after each backup.
- Don’t share sensitive information online i.e don’t announce when you’re going on holiday. You’d be surprised how many people do and don’t realise that this can nullify your holiday insurance.
Cyber security is one of the biggest problems we face today.
* Estimated to be worth $6 trillion by 2021, it is more profitable than the global illegal drug trade.
* Ransomware — a malware that infects computers and restricts their access to files, often threatening permanent data destruction unless a ransom is paid — has reached epidemic proportions and is the fastest growing cybercrime. Almost $1 billion is paid in ransomware payment annually
*Nearly half of all cyber attacks occur against small businesses
Cyber criminals operate enormous businesses, hiring some of the best developers and paying some of the highest salaries. Many offer hacking tools and kits as products, which other criminals can buy. Some even offer a complete support service for these products! Criminals use these automated tools and software to infect computers and steal data, and because they are automated, no one is immune. Your computer and your data are valuable, but many people don’t realise it. Your computer can be infected to help them launch attacks on other computers, and your data can be sold, or your files could be locked and you could be held to ransom to get your files back.
Some people make this process really for easy for the criminals and if you do any of the following, you might be too:
- Using easy passwords. Your children / partner / pets name may not be as difficult to crack as you imagine. Common passwords like “123456” or “Password123” can be easily guessed in seconds.
- Using the same password for all your accounts.
- Using no password at all
Criminals can crack your password very easily if you make it short and easy.
- A simple 7 character password of just letters could be cracked in less than one second using today’s computers.
- Increasing that to 10 characters would take around 4 months to crack
- Increasing to 11 characters could take up to a decade to crack
So long complex passwords are really essential!
Use different passwords for each account
Using the same password for all your accounts is very common for many people because its hard to remember so many passwords. But if you use a simple password, and it gets stolen or cracked, then those hackers potentially have automatic access to all the accounts that use that password. You should be using different passwords for all your accounts, and using a password manager (such as Last Pass) to keep them secure.
Strong passwords are easy to create:
- Use two to three memorable words joined together to make a long password (10 characters minimum)
- Use a mix of upper and lower case letters
- Add some numbers or special characters (such as question marks, exclamation marks, brackets) to make it even stronger. For example you could use the number “3” instead of the letter “E”.
So perhaps instead of your password being emma1998, you could improve that to Emma1998Bicycle! which would be a much stronger password and yet still not too hard to remember.
Using strong and different passwords on every account will immediately make you more secure and limit the damage of one password being stolen.
The danger of links
Links are the way we quickly get to the things we want to see, but there is a hidden danger with links that many people don’t realise. It is very common for the link you see to be different from the link you will actually go to if you click it. This is very helpful most of the time because no one wants long, ugly links to look at, but the criminals use this to their advantage. One common way is phishing emails which usually try to tempt or scare you into taking action, by clicking on the link they provide. An example might be an email supposedly from saying you have a tax refund, and encouraging you to click the link to begin the claim process. The link might look look legitimate, but when you click on it you would be taken to a malicious website which would attempt to install malware on your computer.
For more help with Cyber Security for your work and personal devices, contact us today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for a free initial consultation.
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