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Are You Accidentally Causing a Cyber Security Risk?

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Cyber Essentials
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“Cloud Computing” has revolutionised the way we work. Several years ago, working online without a fixed location wouldn’t have be considered, yet with the evolution of technology – along with the increasing demand to access information 24/7, remote working has become the norm.

While being able to nip to your local coffee house whilst filing those reports or collaborating on a project whilst travelling; growing concern around the security of confidential information has been amplified with the surge of Cyber-Attacks over recent years.

Our awareness around personal possessions – laptops, mobile phones, tablets are evident. We look out for suspicious characters who may be lurking next to our bags; we lock our cars and house’s, deploying alarms to deter potential thieves.

Alarmingly, the criminals we need to focus our attention on, to avoid catastrophic and irremediable implications go further than just the ones in immediate sight. We could be unintentionally inviting these criminals into our personal records due to naivety and lack of security on sensitive data. Cyber Criminals are clever and with the growth of technology, their expertise is expanding – increasing the risk to you and you and your organisation.

Precaution Methods

The majority are wise to be suspicious unsolicited communications such as emails known as “Phishing” from unknown sources; yet emails that appear to be sent by a colleague may be harder to decipher whether the sender is in fact a trusted source. Common ways attackers will infiltrate their victim’s accounts is to create the sense of urgency i.e. an email that appears to be from someone in seniority, fooling the victim to respond quickly without thinking.

What to Look Out For

  • Emails that come from different addresses to what you’d expect.
  • Documents that ask you to enable macros or editing before you can see the contents.
  • Language used throughout the email – are the phrases they are using out of the ordinary i.e. are they addressing you in a different way to the norm?
  • Windows Explorer has the option to show file extensions to protect you against misleading filenames.
  • Double file extensions (e.g. .pdf.htm) or extensions you aren’t familiar with (e.g. .js, .wsf, .lnk).
  • Hover your mouse cursor over links to see if they go where they say they are going.
  • If in doubt, call or speak in person to your friend or colleague and ask them if they sent the email. (Don’t use the number in the email you’re concerned about – look the number up in a different way!

Personal Devices

Of course, Cyber Criminals find many ways of accessing your data. The widespread rise of “smart” gadgets collectively known as “The Internet of Things (IOT),” (while providing a plethora of benefits for the user) opens up many options for hackers, who seek out vulnerabilities such as weak passwords or dated software to find an easy route into your private details. Throwing away your fit-bit or switching off your “Alexa” may not be appealing to you, but selecting secure passwords; using multi-factor authentication; and connecting devices via PC’s and Laptops that hold the latest software and antivirus installed – collectively minimises the risk.

Similarly, many organisations encourage their staff to use their own devices for work purposes. While this reduces business expense, a far greater cost could occur if necessary precautions are not adhered to. “Jailbroken” or “rooted devices” are in danger of being vulnerable to compromise and should be pre-approved by your IT department before linking to business applications.

One precaution organisations take, is to set up data encryption and Virtual Private Networks (VPN’s).  Additionally, storing critical business information without needing to, is leaving you subjected to attack. Worse still, should your device fall into the wrong hands, you could end up losing more than the just the value of the item. Such circumstances cannot be completely avoided but being vigilant and taking definitive actions, such as reporting theft and remotely wiping your device, can certainly lessen the extreme outcomes that could prevail if you don’t.

WIFI related security incidents are common in today’s society, with 62% occurring in cafés and coffee shops. Depriving yourself from your favourite latte may not appeal to the majority, yet being alert to the risks will reduce the threat of uninvited guests.

5 Easy Ways to stay secure using Public WiFi

  • Limit file sharing
  • Opt not to be “discoverable” by other devices around you.
  • Stick to well-known networks and limit the number of public networks you sign up to
  • Access sites that only consist of “https” rather than “http” in the web link
  • Don’t give away too much personal information when signing up.

Remote working is certainly the way forward, allowing workers freedom and flexibility. Taking these essential precautions will offer you (and your boss!) peace of mind and safe, whilst working within “The Cloud” minimising exposure to criminals looking to take advantage from right under your nose.