With cyber attacks making headlines every day all around the world, we are all concerned about our own cyber security and that of our company. Good cyber security starts at home: if we learn how to stay secure there, we will definitely be more secure at work.
Here is a list of five common practices that I am sure all of us (me included) do and shouldn’t be doing – be honest, you do at least one of the five.
- I use the same password for all my devices and accounts. This is a very common practice (called password reuse) that I admit I used to do in the past. Is it dangerous? It is indeed: if your password gets stolen by cyber criminals, they then have access to some, if not all, of your accounts and devices. Nowadays, companies try to protect their customers against this practice by resetting their passwords when lists of users’ credentials circulate on the web. LogMeIn is one of those companies, as stated in this press release. When the problem is your memory, a password manager app is a good solution.
- I don’t use firewalls, I only visit websites I trust. Even if you are one of the top ten most tech savvy people in the world, and you believe you can easily spot a spoofed website or a malicious fake advert, a bad day can happen and, without a firewall to keep you safe from external intrusion, you could be a victim, just like anyone else.
- I have never changed my password. The golden rule for basic cyber security is to change the default password at first usage and periodically change it thereafter. To meet this rule, lots of software reminds you to change your credentials every couple of months or so, and gives you an indication of its strength, based on the number of characters, and combination of symbols, letters and numbers. If your password is still ‘12345’, ‘password’ or ‘football’, I have bad news: they are on the list of the worst passwords of 2015.
- I use unlicensed software. Ignoring the fact that using unlicensed software is breaking the law, you are more likely to be targeted by a malware attack or cyber criminal exploiting known vulnerabilities. According to the BSA Global Software Survey, 49% of CIOs said security threats from malware are a “major threat posed by unlicensed software”.
- I only run my anti-malware software once in a while. Every picture, song, video or document you download could potentially be infected by malware. A good rule is to configure your anti-malware software to scan files automatically upon access or download to block any malware before it spreads.
Information security starts at home
If you see yourself in at least one of the above examples, it’s time to change the way you manage your online security. Although developed to help companies reduce their cyber security risk, the five controls required by the Cyber Essentials scheme can be followed to strengthen your personal cyber security as well. You might already have anti-malware software installed on your machine or regularly change your passwords, but, by implementing all of the five controls, you could reduce around 80% of Internet-based threats.
Strengthen your company’s cyber security
Once your company is aligned with the Cyber Essentials scheme’s requirements, you can apply for certification to demonstrate your cyber security status to customers, employees, third parties and stakeholders.