Cyber Security Tip – Number 3

Tip #3:  How To Choose A Good Password

Background

Seemingly every other day a website gets hacked. TalkTalk and VTech are notable and news worthy. What happens to the stolen information? The cyber criminals will run account details through software which will check the username and password against other online services. So if your TalkTalk password was the same as your Facebook, chances are they know that by now – and probably your Amazon, Ebay and Twitter as well! With the rate these companies are getting hacked, it is now IF rather WHEN your personal information will be stolen.


So, you know you’re guilty of it: using the same password for everything. Believe me, I understand how annoying it is to try and remember all those passwords. But it leaves us very vulnerable. So what do you do?

For sites that don’t hold personal data, use a “Mickey Mouse” password. One that won’t matter if it gets breached. This can cut down on the number of passwords For all the others – you will need a different password. Next week I will share with you how to manage these.

Action

Change your online email password. Why? If the bad guys get this one, then they can go to all the other sites and click “password reset” – which will send the reset email to your email. This gives them fertile ground to go after all your online accounts.

So make a start right now. If your email password is not unique then change it … now!

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are always happy to help.

Boost staff productivity with mobile tech

Most business owners are quick to think that utilizing mobile devices automatically leads to more productivity. Unfortunately, this is not always true. A poor mobile device policy can actually lead to burnout and see your employees become overwhelmed by technology. Here’s how to avoid these pitfalls and get the most out of mobile devices in the workplace.

Use the right tool

Some work tasks just aren’t cut out for mobile use. While using a mobile phone or tablet to send emails is an effective way to work on the go, trying to write long form reports on these same devices is a bad idea. As a general guideline, small tasks such as email, viewing documents, using search engines and project management apps are good for mobile work. Anything that is too detailed is probably better suited for a computer or laptop. Lastly, only train your employees to use and learn the mobile devices and programs that make sense for their role. If you want them to be most efficient, you don’t want to overwhelm them with every mobile tool your business uses.

Communicate face-to-face

Email is undoubtedly a valuable communication tool. But it’s also become the bane of existence for many of today’s employees and business owners. Too many emails kills your employees productivity, overwhelming them. And unfortunately, many times email is simply unnecessary. Instead of sending that email about a question concerning an upcoming meeting, simply go and ask in-person. You’ll likely get a response much quicker and you avoid adding yet another message to the email overflow.

Consider adding a face-first policy in your office. This means that every time your employees consider writing an email, they should question if it’s easier to just go talk with that person directly. If that person is located a quick walk away, then the conversation should take place in-person. This especially makes sense if your employee needs an answer within a few hours, as sometimes emails go unanswered for much longer than this. By enforcing an email policy, your employees’ inboxes are less likely to be overflowing and your communication will take place in a more timely manner.

Set boundaries

There’s no question that mobile tech can help productivity, but it can also hinder it. The problem is that many employees who utilize it have difficulty “switching off”. The lines between work and personal life begin to blur as completing work tasks is always right at their fingertips. While on the surface more work output from your employees may sound like a good thing, in reality it’s far from it. Being “always on” can quickly lead to burnout. And even if it doesn’t, if your employees don’t take time to break and recharge, their productivity will suffer. To demonstrate just how many employees fall into this trap of overworking, the 2015 Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index surveyed 2,602 employees and found that a quarter of them regularly worked after standard business hours, and four out of ten worked on at least one weekend a month.

So how can you resolve this issue as an employer? Simply set boundaries. Create time frames for when work platforms and applications can be utilized and for when emails can be sent and responded to. Also, don’t encourage employees to work on off-hours by sending emails during the weekend. If your concern isn’t urgent, then by all means wait till Monday to send it out.

Be flexible

While it may sound a bit contradictory to the last point, being flexible in your work policy can be a smart decision to boost productivity. By being flexible, we mean the ability for your employees to work at hours and locations of their choosing. Most people work better and quicker at certain hours as they are more focused at specific times of the day. And some people will work better remotely than they do at an office space as there can be less distractions. The Staples survey supported this fact as 59% of the employees surveyed said that flexible schedules had a positive effect on productivity.

Cloud tools like Office 365 and Google Apps can help encourage a flexible workplace. But regardless of how flexible your office becomes, be conscious that parameters on work, mentioned in the last section, should still be in place to prevent employee burnout.

Mobile devices in the workplace can go a long way towards making your business more efficient and employees happy. If you’d like to learn more about utilizing mobile devices in the workplace or how you can leverage technology to make your business more productive, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Understand these 4 types of hackers

 

Why do hackers attack? Is it for money, notoriety, or political reasons? Many business owners never ask these questions, and instead only think about the means of how a cyber attack takes place. But knowing the motive behind a hacker’s attack can help you understand whether or not you’re a target and what data you need to protect. So let’s take a closer look at 4 different types of hackers and their motives.

Script Kiddies

When it comes to skill level, Script Kiddies are at the bottom of the totem pole and often use scripts or other automated tools they did not write themselves – hence the name. With only an elementary level of technical knowhow, Script Kiddies usually don’t cause much damage…usually. The Script Kiddy virus known as the Love Bug which sent out an email with the subject-line “I LOVE YOU” fooled millions of people, including some in the Pentagon, in the early 2000’s. The virus reportedly caused around 10 billion in lost productivity and digital damage.

So who is a Script Kiddie? Most of the time they’re simply bored youth looking for a thrill or notoriety. Many never evolve into a full-time hacker, and instead just use their skills as a hobby. Oddly enough, many Script Kiddies find a career later on working in the security industry.

Hacktivist

If you’ve heard of Anonymous, LulzSec or AntiSec, then you’re familiar with Hacktivists. These groups are made up of members of varying skill levels, all the way from Script Kiddies to some of the most talented hackers in the world. Their mission is largely politically motivated as they aim to embarrass their targets or disrupt their operations, whether that be a business or government body. Two of the most common ways they attack their target are by stealing sensitive information and exposing it or denial of service (DDoS) where a server is overloaded till it finally crashes.

As a small or medium-sized business owner you are not necessarily immune to Hacktivist disruption. If your business or a company you’re associated/partnered with participates or provides services that can be seen as unethical, such as Ashley Madison (who fell victim of a major Hacktivist attack last year), then you too may be targeted by Hacktivists.

Cyber Criminals

Often talked about in the media and well-known by most SMBs, cyber criminals are after one thing: money. Their targets run the gamut, including everyone from individuals to small businesses to large enterprises and banks. But what do these targets usually have in common? They either have a very valuable resource to steal or their security is easy to exploit…or a combination of both of these. Cyber criminals can attack in a number of ways including using social engineering to trick users into providing sensitive information, infecting an organization/individual with ransomware or another form or malware, or exploiting weaknesses in a network.

Insiders

Perhaps the scariest type of hackers are the ones that lurk within your own organization. Insiders are made up of disgruntled employees, whistleblowers or contractors. Oftentimes their mission is payback; they want to right a wrong they believe a company has perpetrated toward them, so they’ll steal sensitive documents or try to disrupt the organization somehow. Edward Snowden is a prime example of an insider who hacked his own organization – the US government.

Now that you know what motivates your enemy, you’ll hopefully have a bit of an idea as to whether or not you’re a target. To learn more about how to secure your business from these types of hackers, get in touch with our experts today.

Cyber Security Tip #2

Tip #2:  How To Choose A Good Password

Last week we warned you about why you shouldn’t use a simple, easy to guess password, but the alternatives are so hard to remember. A random sequence of characters like shui56De@^72tfW is a difficult to crack password. Unfortunately it’s also impossible for a person to remember! What are the alternatives?

Background

My favourite strategy for a secure password is to use a passphrase. That is, a sentence that means something to you, but to a computer is very hard to guess. For example, if you are into football, something like “The England 11 in 66 are the finest we’ve ever seen!”. This contains upper case and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. Alternatively, you could use “What is 65% of 200? It’s 135!” – if you are more into numbers. When you make these phrases into passwords, you would need to remove the spaces.


Adding a twist to this makes it easier to use – just use the first letter in each word – For the football fan – TE11i66atfwes! This is pretty easy to type out whilst you say the phrase in your head. The second example doesn’t work as well as it ends up being short, so I have kept in all the digits: Wi65%o200?i135!

Action

If your password that you use to login to your PC isn’t up to standard, change it right now! It will take 10 seconds. Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete keys at the same time, and then select the change password option.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are always happy to help.

Posted with permission by Vermont.co.uk.

Cyber Security Tip – Number 1

Tip #1:  What is a strong password, and why do you need it?

Welcome to the first of our cyber security tips emails. Each week I will give you specific, actionable advice to help you avoid being the victim of a cyber crime. Yes – there are bad guys out there who want to steal from you. At a minimum they are going to cost you time, and it can be highly embarrassing. At worst, it can cost you thousands of pounds in hard cash, and possibly your job.

We all know that without password protection, nothing is safe but we frequently use insecure passwords to protect our valuable data and to provide access to our technology.

So get focused, here we go…


Background

Thanks to powerful brute-force-attack software readily available online, hackers can quickly and easily try tens of millions of possible password combinations per second. For example, hacking software can guess a five-character password in under three hours. If you only use lowercase letters, it’s 11.9 seconds!

You KNOW you need to have a better password than “password” or “letmein” if you have any hope of keeping hackers out, but what does a “strong” password mean? A good password should be at least eight characters long (or longer!) and have a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols that are hard to guess. Don’t use dictionary words with proper capitalisation because they’re easy to guess (like Password123!). Even though it meets the requirements we just discussed, it’s easily hacked; remember, hackers have sophisticated password-hacking software that will run 24/7/365.

Action

How do your current passwords rate?

Next time, I will explain how to choose a good password. So this week’s action is to make a list of your online accounts that might have bad passwords (you will need this later).

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are always happy to help.

Posted with permission by Vermont.co.uk.

The different types of malware: explained

Ever been infected by malware or a virus?

For most internet users, the answer is probably yes. But what is the difference between all the cyber threats out there? What makes a virus different from a trojan or worm? And how can you protect your critical data and your business from these threats? If you’ve never been able to answer these questions, here’s the explanation you’ve been waiting for.

The different types of malware: explained

Malware

Malware is the short version of the word malicious software. And this is a general term that encompasses many types of online threats including spyware, viruses, worms, trojans, adware, ransomware and more. Though you likely already know this, the purpose of malware is to specifically infect and harm your computer and potentially steal your information.

But how do the different types of malware differ from one another? How can you protect your business from them? Let’s take a look at four of the most common forms of malware below.

Virus

like a virus that can infect a person, a computer virus is a contagious piece of code that infects software and then spreads from file to file on a system. When infected software or files are shared between computers, the virus then spreads to the new host.

The best way to protect yourself from viruses is with a reliable antivirus program that is kept updated. Additionally, you should be wary of any executable files you receive because viruses often come packaged in this form. For example, if you’re sent a video file, be aware that if the name includes an “exe” extension like .mov.exe, you’re almost certainly dealing with a virus.

Spyware

Just like a spy, a hacker uses spyware to track your internet activities and steal your information without you being aware of it. What kind of information is likely to be stolen by Spyware? Credit card numbers and passwords are two common targets.

And if stealing your information isn’t bad enough, Spyware is also known to cause PC slowdown, especially when there is more than one program running on your system – which is usually the case with a system that’s infected.

A common mistake many people make is they assume their antivirus software automatically protects them from Spyware. This is not always true as some antivirus isn’t designed to catch spyware. If you’re unsure if your antivirus prevents Spyware, get verification from your vendor. And for those that are already suffering from Spyware infestation, two programs that work wonders to clean it out are Eset Antivirus and Malwarebytes.

Worms

Similar to viruses, worms also replicate themselves and spread when they infect a computer. The difference, however, between a worm and a virus is that a worm doesn’t require the help of a human or host program to spread. Instead, they self-replicate and spread across networks without the guidance of a hacker or a file/program to latch onto.

In addition to a reliable antivirus software, to prevent worms from infecting your system you should ensure your firewall is activated and working properly.

Trojan

Like the trojan horse from ancient greek mythology, this type of malware is disguised as a safe program designed to fool users, so that they unwittingly install it on their own system, and later are sabotaged by it. Generally, the hacker uses a trojan to steal both financial and personal information. It can do this by creating a “backdoor” to your computer that allows the hacker to remotely control it.

Similar to the other malware mentioned above, antivirus software is a dependable way to protect yourself against trojans. For further safety, it’s wise to not open up suspicious attachments, and also ensure that your staff members aren’t downloading any programs or applications illegally at the office – as this is a favorite place hackers like to hide trojans.

Curious to learn more about malware that can cause trouble for business owners? Want to upgrade your existing network security system? Give us a call today, 07769 110272, we’re sure we can help.

Published with permission from Vermont.co.uk. Source.