Business Boost | 29 June 2016 - by KCOM

Cyber Security Top 10 Tips

It’s important to stay up to date when it comes to cyber security, and at KCOM it’s something we take very seriously, particularly when it comes to protecting our customers.

With that in mind, we asked our Head of Cyber Risk, Steve Southern, to share his top 10 tips for protecting yourself – both in the workplace and at home – from some of the most common online threats.

While you may have seen some of these tips before, we recommend taking a few minutes just to go through them and consider some simple steps that you can to take to help protect yourself and your business.

1. Social media…is great and most of us enjoy using it in some form or another, but always be cautious about the information you’re sharing with others. Once you publish information on social media, even if you have enabled privacy settings, you effectively have no control over where or with whom it might eventually be shared. Your information is also persistent, even when you may think it’s been deleted. Typically what gets deleted is a link to the information, while the information itself remains intact. 

2. Passwords…are necessary but they are increasingly vulnerable to attack, so there are some additional things you might wish to consider. Instead of trying to remember a complicated random password, try joining together some simple words that mean something to you. For example, perhaps you have a favourite restaurant called Luigi’s in a town called Beverley where you go every Sunday with your cousin Rebecca – in which case your password is ‘LuigisBeverleySundayRebecca’. Many online services now offer an additional authentication method such as sending a code via text message to your mobile phone, and these are always worth signing up for.

3. Email…is useful but it provides an easy way for someone to contact you and potentially gain access to your computer or mobile device. Be cautious when opening or even viewing an email if you are not 100% certain it’s from a known and trusted source. If you have any doubt whatsoever, simply right-click and delete the email. Attachments and web links are commonly used as a means of compromising your computer, so be particularly careful where these are concerned.

4. Backups…are really easy and in most cases take only seconds to switch on, for example Time Machine in Mac OS X. The most difficult thing is having to buy a separate storage device, but these are now widely available, and highly affordable. Just pause for a minute to think about the documents, photos, videos, and music that you have on your computer, tablet or phone, quite possibly going back over several years, and think about how you would feel if you lost them.

5. Games…are the reason many of us have a computer or smartphone, and this tip is really aimed at protecting children. The vast majority of computer and console-based games now have an online function so that information can be shared between players anywhere and at any time. Some of that information may not be appropriate for children, including messages, images and videos, and details of location. Of course the game play itself may be violent, or have sexual or other adult themes, so always check to see if it is rated by one of the main authorities such as the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) system or the Entertainment Software Rating Board.

6. Software updates…are vital, so check the settings on your computer, tablet or smartphone, and make sure they are enabled, either automatically or with your confirmation required each time there is an update. These updates occur for many reasons, including to fix security vulnerabilities, which is why they are an important part of your protection.

7. Anti-virus…software, also referred to as anti-malware, should be installed and kept up to date on your computers. Many products are available, some of them free, and there’s lots of information available online to help you select a good one. It’s worth pointing out that none of these products are 100% effective all the time, and some people choose to run at least two different products as a way of increasing protection.

8. Wi-Fi…is now ubiquitous, and we all are increasingly reliant upon it in our daily lives whether at home, at work, or on holiday. However, just like the internet, Wi-Fi wasn’t originally designed with security as a main objective, but it has now evolved so that there are some simple steps we can all take to protect ourselves. First and foremost remember that many public Wi-Fi hotspots are just that – public, not private. This means anyone is free to use the Wi-Fi, including people who may want to monitor what you’re doing. Also bear in mind that just because you see a familiar Wi-Fi network such as ‘Costa Public’ or ‘Virgin East Coast’, it’s possible to ‘spoof’ these, so you may actually be connecting to a Wi-Fi network set up by someone who wants to steal personal information or attack your computer. As far as your own personal Wi-Fi is concerned, make sure it’s secure so that no-one can gain access to it unless they have the password – to do this just follow the instructions from your internet service provider. KCOM offers a secure Wi-Fi solution for businesses in Hull & East Yorkshire - click here for more information. 

9. Online shopping…is something many of us do several times a week or even every day, so it’s worth remembering some basic guidelines. Only shop with known and trusted suppliers and even then, make sure you’re visiting the legitimate websites by carefully checking the web address. Also look for ‘https’ and the padlock icon, usually in your web browser address bar, so you can be sure your information is secure. Pay by credit card rather than debit card; with the former you will have some protection from the card provider, whereas with debit cards this may not be the case and funds are immediately taken from your account.

10. Don’t panic…if something bad happens. Even taking all these precautions it’s still possible for things to go wrong. With your computer, and as a general rule, it’s better to leave it switched on if for example you think it may be infected by a virus. If you are not confident about safely removing the virus, find a friend or a professional who can help. For most other problems, assuming you can still access the internet, it’s usually quite easy to find good information about how to proceed.

Find out how KCOM can help protect your business

KCOM can provide your business with the perfect security solution for your organisation, no matter how many users are on your network. For more information about our packages, please register your interest here and we'll arrange a call-back. Alternatively, click here to find out more about our Lightstream Secure bundles, or for an overview of the full range of security plans, visit here

If you'd rather speak to a member of the Business team, please call us on 0800 915 5426 or email heybusiness@kcom.com.