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Happy International Computer Security Day!!

Today, computer and IT security has become a critical part of a business’s operations and plays a big part in its success or otherwise. It is therefore essential that everyone in an organisation understands their roles and responsibilities when it comes to protecting sensitive data and business resources.

What is Computer Security Day?

Computer Security Day is an annual event which is celebrated on the 30th November every year. It’s aim is to raise awareness and to promote best practices in information security.  Staying safe online has become of paramount importance as more and more cyber criminals are using the internet and email to commit various types of cyber attacks, fraud and scams.

The Importance of Computer Security

There are a number of reasons why computer security has become so important, not just for businesses but for individuals as well:  primarily it is to keep your information protected! However, computer security is also important for your computer’s overall health, helping to prevent virus and malware infection and allowing programs to run more smoothly. We have put together 5 basic tips that will help you to stay safe online.

1. Good password management

Everyone by now should know of the importance of strong passwords!  One of the concerns people have when it comes to creating a complex password is the fear of forgetting them, especially with the endless online tools, websites and resources available to us. Multiple accounts are created by individuals and businesses using various websites and online resources and unfortunately many resort to choosing a weak password for ease and remembrance.

So how do you ensure you chose high quality secure passwords?

  • Your passwords need to be at least 8 characters long and they should be complex. This means they should include numbers, symbols and punctuation.
  • Avoid dictionary words and do not repeat sequences of characters e.g. 2222 or abcabc. If possible, use a secure password generator.
  • Use a password manager, there are a range of tools available online such as DashLane and LastPass. These services not only let you store accounts and passwords in one place, but also help you pick high-quality secure passwords.

Remember no matter how tempted you are do not write your passwords down, stick them to your monitor or hide them under your keyboard.

 

2. Update your software

More often than not, receiving an alert to update operating systems and computer software always seem to occur at the most inconvenient time. Maybe you’ve got that email to send, that report to complete or that big presentation to prepare for, so delaying to download the updated software seems like the easiest and most simple option.

Keeping your software up to date is the single biggest security precaution you can take for any operating system. They are important because they often include critical patches to security holes. In fact, many of the more harmful malware attacks often take advantage of software vulnerabilities in common applications, including the likes of operating systems and browsers that have not been kept up-to-date.

So how do you ensure your software has the latest updates?

  • When a security update is available you should generally install it as soon as possible.
  • For peace of mind, it is advisable to ensure your automatic updates are turned on (believe it or not, hackers do have the ability to turn off anti-virus software).

 

3. Lock your devices

The physical security of your device is just as important as its technical security. If you do need to leave your device unattended it is important to do the following:

  • Ensure you lock your computer device when you need to leave it unattended, even if this is for a short space of time. If you don’t lock your computer you are inviting problems and creating easy opportunities for unauthorised access.
  • Close any shared documents (especially if you are working on a document that is shared with other people such as your colleagues).
  • If you need to keep sensitive information on a flash drive or an external hard drive, ensure these are locked up and ideally encrypted.

 

4. Backup your data on a regular basis

If you run any kind of operation digitally and rely on this data, you should always keep a copy of your latest work or records. And this should be in addition to local backups kept on your on-premise drives!

As much as hardware reliability has improved throughout the years, hard drives, USB sticks and SD cards are still susceptible to failure. Once they do, the costs of professional data recovery could be very costly (if at all possible).

It should therefore be best practice that you backup your data on a regular basis.

 

5. Educate all employees

It is important to educate all employees so that they are aware of the policies and risks associated with computer security. Have policies in place to train your employees in the following areas:

  • Software – it is important that employees understand what they are and aren’t allowed to download onto their work machines. If in doubt, an employee should contact their IT department for download permission and have the source checked before downloading.
  • Password practices – implementing a password policy decreases the risk of a password being guessed or cracked. It is important that usernames and passwords are not shared with those who do not need direct access. This can prevent further consequences of passwords being compromised.
  • Backups – it is important to implement an effective backup system, not only for your main servers but for your employee machines. This way if they accidentally delete an important file (which does happen from time to time), they can contact their IT department and recover it. This will also prevent them from losing the data forever. This can done through built-in tools on most modern operating systems, including macOS & Windows10.  Commercial software is also available for this.
  • Spam & Phishing Education – educating employees on being able to spot suspicious links and convincing emails will prevent hackers being able to gain unauthorised access to computers.  It is important that staff are trained and educated never to click on suspicious emails, ads or social media posts.
  • Ongoing Training Updates – Ongoing training and updates will help employees to know what to look for as this is a fast-moving area and cyber criminals and hackers are constantly changing and evolving strategies to steal information.  Be vigilant!

Hopefully this short article will have given you some basic measures to implement (if you have not already done so).  If you would like any further information about computer security or have any concerns over the security of your data please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and give us a call. We are always happy to help! – 0161 464 6101.

 

 

Rachel Waters

Rachel Waters

Communications Manager