October is cybersecurity awareness month, and it’s never been more important to know what to do and what to look out for online.
The internet is a wonderful resource for knowledge, sharing and connection (particularly in the last 18 months). Sadly, its popularity also makes it the ideal target for hackers and fraudsters who prey on internet users for all manner of crimes.
Companies have a duty to their employees and customers to keep data and information secure online. As a business leader, it’s critical to educate yourself on cyber threats and protective measures you can take to stay safe.
Think before you link (click)
The first port of call when deciphering whether an e-mail is harmful or not, is asking yourself the question: “do I recognise the email address of the sender?” Is the sender’s e-mail address a traditional phrase such as ‘info@’ or ‘enquiries@’ or is it filled with letters and gobbledygook instead?
These are a few questions to ask yourself before you click a link. Many scammers send ‘phishing’ emails to their targets. They may include some information that seems relevant to the recipient, with a clickable link that the user is urged to click on. Fraudsters are clever in that they often add an air of urgency or consequence to their fake emails, which incites the user to take action and click the link before thinking twice.
The first step to improving your cybersecurity awareness is to think carefully before clicking any links. You can also protect your friends and contacts by verifying any emails and links before you forward them onto anyone else.
Stay safe remotely
Covid-19 led to a huge surge in remote working, with many companies left with no choice but to instruct their employees to work from home through the multiple lockdowns. This meant more sharing of sensitive information over employee’s home WiFi networks and computers.
Without the firewalls of office computers and corporate broadband contracts, we need to be careful about what information we share, and how we share it.
There are many secure document sharing portals that can be more secure than using email. For example Dropbox and WeTransfer are password-protected sharing networks that are renowned for being security conscious.
Speaking of Passwords…
“Password123” is nice and easy to remember and can be used across all your secure sites — great! It’s also great for hackers who can easily guess such an easy password.
Be mindful of using the same password across multiple sites. If a hacker gains access to your password, they can use clever software to trawl all the websites you visit and, if you use the same password for everything, they’ll gain access to all these sites too.
Instead of writing down your password, you can use an online secure storage service like Lastpass to store your passwords, and save all those ‘forgotten password’ links clogging up your inbox.
Report and Block Fraudsters
If you suspect any suspicious activity, either online or via email — take action. Block any senders you don’t trust, so that any future emails from them will go directly to your spam mailbox. Also, if you’re worried that you’ve been the victim of a cyber crime, report it.
The Metropolitan Police website has a list of resources and contacts you can use to get help and advice about cyber crime.
If you’re a business or charity, you can report a live cyber attack to Action Fraud.
Backup Your Data
Losing a business document because you forgot to save it is annoying. But losing critical information, personal records or client data isn’t a mere hassle, it’s potentially dangerous. If someone gets hold of your client records or business information, they’re able to use it for all sorts of fraudulent activity.
It’s really important that you backup your data to a secure source, like an external hard drive or similar secure location.
Many devices and Cloud based computing services offer automatic backups of your information to an external source. This means that if your information is compromised or you lose anything on a device, you can retrieve it in the Cloud.
The beauty of Cloud based services is that they’re secure and less physical, so there’s less for fraudsters to steal on your laptop or mobile device. Make sure you use a trusted source, both for physical backups and Cloud backups.
More About Cybersecurity Awareness Month
Cybersecurity awareness month was launched by the National Cyber Security Alliance & the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in October 2004. Each year, there is a theme that relates to cybersecurity and staying safe online.
The theme for 2021 is ‘Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart’. The idea is to empower individuals and organisations to own their role in protecting their part of cyberspace.
Origin Communications, The Cybersecurity PR Specialists
At Origin, we specialise in promoting our clients as the specialists in equipping businesses to stay safe and protect their image online. In a digital age, where access to information is instant and sharing is everything, it’s critical that you have the right tools to present a positive image of your brand.
Connect with customers and boost your brand to the right audience. Get in touch to discuss how we can help with your cybersecurity PR strategy.