VIRUS.TROJAN.MALWARE.SPAM

These are just a fraction of terms you may have come across when reading about the dangers of surfing online through your laptops, mobiles and tablets. With the advancements of technology there have been so many benefits ranging from cloud computing, instant messaging, the development of social networks and so much more. The possibilities using technology are endless however it is imperative we are aware of the risks which can become apparent and develop data security barriers to counter these.

In an article recently published by The Guardian, PwC estimated that the worst possible data security breach for a small business can be anywhere around £65,000-£115,000 on average. In comparison the worst breach for a large firm can cost around £600,000-£1.15m. This shows that any business can potentially be at risk from an attack despite its size or reputation.

“In 2014, 60% of small businesses experienced a cyber-breach” (GOV)

This is merely one perspective, what about protecting your data which is used on a daily basis? Credit card details, emails, texts, pictures are only some of the things which are valuable to us. The need for data is often a requirement when using devices such as mobiles, tablets and laptops, which can only be received through a hardwired connection, mobile provider or Wi-Fi.  It is no surprise that people will often search for a Wi-Fi hot spot while they are out and about, maybe around a shopping centre or restaurant. In most cases there will be some sort of security engaged, usually in the form of a password, to prevent hackers from accessing the data. However some of these hot spots are vulnerable to attack, it took just 11 minutes for a 7 year old girl to hack a Wi-Fi router, The Daily Mail reported.

Although technology can seem like a scary digital world where people and businesses are at risk of having their details and data stolen, a lot can be done to prevent hackers from accessing this information.  The following list is a guideline of some of the ways to enhance your data security  measures and it is worth noting that other things can be done in addition to what is displayed below.

For Businesses

  1. Use a hardwired connection, in particular if the data contains sensitive information about people’s identity and health. Although this does not allow for consistent connectivity on the move, it does prevent hackers from identifying the Wi-Fi router being used and attempting to hack it.
  2. Understand the basic advice. Strong passwords are always suggested as it makes a hacker’s job more difficult. A long memorable password consisting of numbers, letters, symbols and different cases can make the difference of being vulnerable to a breach. Ensure anti-virus software is installed on all devices and that staff are trained on how to use them. Employees are likely to receive suspicious looking emails so be sure they know what to look out for and know to delete them immediately. The appearance and content of websites can also be dangerous so look out for these too.
  3. Adopt a risk management approach. In the event your business is breached, you need to have a plan of what to do prior, during and after the attack has happened.
    • Understand exactly what is at risk as this will be the main concern and the security measures should be even stronger with these factors.
    • Think about who could pose as a threat, although criminals seem like the only people, there is the possibility of your own employees or perhaps competitors in the same market.
    • Have an understanding of the types of attacks that could place. Could someone be physically stealing laptops or equipment? Is the attack being remotely conducted from someone else? Of course there are so many things to look out for but an understanding of the major threats provides an effective security measure
    • Understand the impact of the threat. It is important as a business you know how you plan to react to the crisis and what you can expect in the aftermath. It is worth alerting key stakeholders as early as possible so they are aware of the situation
    • Readjust and learn. It is important for a business that you understand how the breach took place and you take measures to ensure it cannot happen again. It is worth addressing key stakeholders and explaining what has been learnt from the crisis and regain their confidence to assure them that this won’t happen again.

For personal devices

  1. Strong passwords. Having a strong password is relevant to both businesses and individuals. As mentioned previously, having a combination of randomised letters, numbers and symbols can prove difficult to breach. If possible try to change your passwords every 90 days or so. There is no actual figure in place but most companies will suggest this amount of time.
  2. Activate two step authentication where possible. If someone accesses your Twitter account on another device, they will be required to put in a temporary password first, which is only sent to your mobile account. As a result the hacker would not gain access without the temporary password. Twitter, Google and Facebook are just some of the companies that offer this feature.
  3. Remote wipe. On many of the mobiles and tablets being released, there is a feature which allows you to wipe your device clear of any information it contained. This feature becomes particularly useful in the event your device is stolen or lost and you are concerned about the information on it.

By taking into consideration these guidelines as well as others, technology users can feel safe using their devices, knowing that they are well protected from the threat of hackers.