Cyber Crime – what is it and how can you avoid being a victim

Cyber Crime is something everyone everywhere, whether from business or personal perspective, needs to be mindful of.  It is essentially when criminals use technology that you have to commit a crime and you will be the victim.  The crimes can vary and include acts like theft of data and extortion.  Because there are so many ways for criminals to commit crimes it can be a very complex task to adequately protect yourself, as everyone’s vulnerabilities vary.   However the more common mistakes people make are the ones most exploited by cyber criminals so today we’ll cover the low hanging fruit and give you 3 easy ways to make sure you’re protected from the more common ways businesses are targeted.

 Have good ‘strong’ passwords

Yes, it’s a pain having to think of increasingly more complex passwords that are hard to crack and it’s even more of pain to have different passwords for every account and then have to change them periodically.  But it’s also one of the most exploited back doors cyber criminals use.  And if you’re thinking why would they want to hack my account I’m just some anonymous small business person they don’t even know I exist think again.  There is very sophisticated software available at very low cost that simply automates the process. So if you use your email as your login along with a basic password it won’t take long to find you and the log in details to your accounts.  So now you have to spend the rest of your life hammering away at a keyboard with increasingly ridiculous passwords?  Not exactly.  There is an easier way.  Password management software like Last Pass and Roboform take all the headaches away for you.  They generate a complex random password for you and then store it securely in way that means only you can get access to it when you want to log in to the relevant account.  It means all your accounts can have different and log complex passwords but you only need to remember one.   Some of you may now of course be asking well if all my passwords are stored with Roboform or Last Pass what happens if they get hacked?!?!  Good question.  The answer is a bit beyond the scope of this post but we will be happy to explain in person or over the phone if you really want to know the ins and outs, but the short answer is through the magic of encryption.  What this means is they don’t actually know what your password is either, so even if they were hacked they wouldn’t have the information to hand over.  Think of it as a bank robber breaking into a bank but then getting a bomb proof safe with 20ft thick walls which requires your fingerprint to open it.  Yes the robber may be able to drill through the safe but by the time they get there the bank will be surrounded by cops just like in all those Hollywood bank robbery films.

 Encrypt Your Files

As mentioned earlier encryption is a useful tool when protecting yourself from Cybercrime so it’s a good idea to encrypt data that your store.  Think of encryption as the electronic equivalent of storing your documents in a locked filing cabinet, rather than leaving them on the the table of the pub you went to on your way home from work.  So the good thing about encryption is that the likes of Apple and Microsoft are very aware of how useful and worthwhile it is so they’ve made it easy for you. So assuming your Mac is relatively new (2011 onwards) simply search for ‘FileVault’ and go from there.  For Windows if you’re on Windows 8.1 or newer your hard drive in encrypted by default.  If not you need to search for a feature called ‘Bit Locker’.  If you don’t have the bit locker feature you’ll need to install 3rd party encryption software but it may also be time to consider upgrading your operating system as well.

So now your files are encrypted even if someone was to hack your systems they won’t really have any chance of getting to your valuable data!

Beware of Wi-Fi

There’s a lot we could go into on this subject and perhaps it’s one to cover in detail at a later date, but for now take this one tip on board.  Don’t connect to open Public Wi-Fi networks ever.  What do we mean by open public?  Basically if you can connect without having to enter any kind of login details.  Why?  If you were in your local Starbucks would you stand up on your chair and shout across the room revealing your bank details, passwords and pin number?  No, didn’t think so.  But when you use these networks everything you do can be easily seen by anyone else in the vicinity using very cheap and easily accessible technology.  And when I say everything I mean it, what sites you visited what you typed to log in to the site the whole lot.  So the easy solution is don’t connect to these types of networks.

So there you go, do the three things above and you make it very difficult for people to access your data or any of your private accounts.  This doesn’t make you bulletproof but as  a lot of cyber crime is quick and dirty, based around taking advantage of people’s lack of security, if you do the above and anyone one ever was to target you the chances are they’d give up very quickly and find an easier target.

If you ever need help implementing any of the above or want to be sure all your bases are covered within your business and have a plan of what to do be sure you’re always well prepared speak to one of our IT Support Security Specialists in Wembley and they’ll be happy to help.

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