10 tips for online security

Good online security practices can save your business from outages, data theft, reputational damage and financial harm. Make your business safer by adopting our ten simple tips to better protect your information.

1. Be password-savvy

We all know strong passwords are a vital first line of defence, and the good news is a couple of tweaks can turn an easy password into defensive stronghold. Make your password long, weird, easy for you to remember, and unique.

2. Use a password manager:

Better yet, use a password manager to keep track of all your information, or even to randomly generate (and remember) passwords far stronger than anything you’re likely to come up with yourself.

3. Do the security two-step:

Two-step verification is fast becoming the new standard for security, and that’s a good thing. With a simple tap on your phone or ‘yes’ on your email you can ensure it’s really you.

4. Install a VPN:

Virtual private networks (VPNs) keep your data and your browsing history secure. VPNs encrypt all incoming and outgoing data, and VPN services are highly affordable for personal and business users alike.

5. Backup your data:

Only those with nothing to lose have nothing to steal, which is why ransomware attacks are one of the most prevalent and profitable forms of cybercrime. Ransomware works by holding your valuable data to ransom, but if your files are securely backed up then much of their threat can be neutralised – unless your data needs to be kept private, in which case see tip #6, below.

6. Encrypt your data:

Most modern operating systems (including Windows, Mac OS and many Linux distributions) include encryption tools that are easy to activate and extremely effective. Use them.

7. Think before you click:

Lots of malware requires users to open files or follow links, often embedded in very credible-looking emails or websites. Users should always take care what they click on – if a link or file looks suspect, it probably is – and never enter passwords or usernames on sites they don’t know.

8. Use an ad blocker:

Ads and trackers can slip by your anti-virus scanner as they’re not (technically) being downloaded; an ad blocker, in addition to reducing those annoying online ads, can shut down hidden trackers by blocking the scripts that run them.

9. Monitor your network:

It’s important to see what’s coming into your network – and just as important to see what’s going out. Make sure your monitoring software can identify whether your data is being transmitted to unknown locations.

10. Update your software:

And finally, perhaps the most obvious measure of all – keep your software up-to-date. Software providers are continually patching out new bugs and repairing vulnerabilities in their systems, but these fixes can only help if you install them.

Sadly, it’s impossible to be 100 percent protected against cyber-crime. As the saying goes, it’s not a question of if you’ll be attacked, it’s a question of when, but if you make your systems more secure than most then you’re a harder target and the cyber criminals just might give you a miss as they search for easier prey.