Part one of three: tools to help keep you safe online.
In our series on digital safety, we're exploring all the top tips to help you stay safe online. The modern con artist has evolved, away from the face-to-face swindle and towards digital scams which focus on online platforms to misdirect and misappropriate funds from victims. Here's our guide to the tools that'll help you and your team stay safe online...
Tools to help you keep safe online...
No system is impenetrable, but there are plenty of tools available to reduce your risk and add layers of protection. Cybercrime happens when organised criminals seek to exploit human error or known weaknesses in systems, with a view to making a quick buck. They focus less on robust systems with good protection, unless their motive is more sophisticated such as a political agenda for example. Here are the tools that are essential for all:
Desktop and mobile antivirus and firewalls:
The simplest and quickest way to criminally gain from digital systems is to exploit existing security weaknesses in software and hardware, blanket attacking any user with subpar security in place. This is done by hiding viruses in software files, as links in what look to be legitimate emails, or with fake sites that look trustworthy. The user inadvertently clicks on the link or file and executes an install onto their PC. Once installed, the software will usually have a core goal, such as holding your files to ransom (ransomware) or logging your passwords (keystroke). They will also often have an executable component that helps with further distribution so that your network passes it on to your connections and the malware spreads. The intention is never good and there can be significant financial implications.
Pretty much the only physical defense is to add antivirus software and firewalls between your files and your attackers. Your PCs and any mobiles should be protected and you shouldn't skimp on the quality of the system - look for the best. This software acts as a barrier between your device and the malware, preventing installation (and potentially even access) in the first place, and then quarantining or removing anything which does get through. Even better, they are regularly updated so as cyber threats evolve, so too does the antivirus software. We recommend ESET which works for PC and handheld devices, doesn't cause any system slowdown, and is one of the very best on the market. Ask our team about it on 01453 700 800.
Top tip: don't forget to talk to your team about their personal devices if they use them to access your corporate network. You won't be in charge of their system, but that doesn't mean it isn't a risk to your network...
Mandate good quality passwords
It can be tempting to help your team create memorable passwords and to give them control over their own password settings, but part of your staff handbook should definitely incorporate how to set a quality password, and there should be checks in place to make sure this is the case. Don't forget, although you can't control what they do at home, your staff handbook and induction can also cover the use of personal devices so that anything they do to access the corporate network is robust and safe.
Here's a quick reminder of password musts:
- Uniqueness: make sure that your systems don't use the same password more than once. It's laborious and many will resist the effort required to remember, but these are your files, your rules.
- No paper: we still visit many offices where passwords are written on sticky notes or notepads and left physically on the desk. These can be scooped up during a break-in and your systems could be accessed before you know it.
- Alpha-numeric: include letters, numbers and symbols, and a change between upper and lowercase. This will make them infinitely harder to guess.
- Change them regularly: yes it is a pain and no your team might not be happy, but decide on a corporate policy for how often a password needs to change, then where possible use the systems to mandate it. This helps reduce the risk of a breach over time. We recommend monthly in our office but at minimum they should be changed quarterly.
- Don't recycle: many staff members admit to reusing a handful of passwords in sequence so that they'll always be familiar, but this assumes the password hasn't previously been breached. Much of the data sold on the dark web can be old, yet the passwords still work so there is still value. Make sure you prevent 'recycling' so that the same passwords can be used again.
If you're worried about your staff breaking the rules because they are worried about remembering, then consider reviewing and including a password manager tool to remember for them. Many devices and browsers already come with this, so it is important you have a corporate policy around using them anyway, and if you encourage the use of one, it can solve all the drama for the less-savvy computer users.
Consider a monitoring service
There are plenty of providers who will now monitor the dark web for data breaches which means that if one of your email accounts turns up with an associated password, they will be notified. There has been a blurring of 'corporate' and 'personal' data in recent years as people use their work email to register for updates, which means your corporate emails can be involved. You can also encourage your users to add their personal email addresses, to help them manage their own risk and by extension the risk of your network too.
Add two-factor authentication
Many platforms already offer two-factor authentication so it is great to mandate this if you can, but what about the platforms that don't include it yet? We've developed a platform called the 'Cloud Managed Data Security' (CDMS) which can quickly and simply do this for you. It is installed system-wide, sits between the internet and your user, and adds a layer of two-factor authentication to all your files and activities. You can even use it to set user permissions, limit specific activities, prevent access to dodgy sites, and monitor for nefarious activity, without impacting your team one bit. Speak to our team about it on 01453 700 800.
Opt for remote IT support
Many business owners end up managing their own IT and fixing any bugs that come along, which works pretty well for the basics, but do you really know enough to keep your systems 100% secure? The value of IT support is truly revealed in the event of a breach when your systems will be tested for their robustness and then for their ability to recover. Using a company to offer remote IT support is not just about installing PCs and fixing glitches (which you may well be able to do yourself), it is about monitoring your systems, installing updates, logging and fixing risks and keeping your network as impenetrable as possible, using the latest advice and guidance. It's affordable too and we're happy to help and advise on 01453 700 800.
So there you have it. The top tools available to support your teams and systems. Keep your eyes peeled for part two on helping your team be cyber smart and part three which covers all the bonus tips.