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Top 5 tips for computer security

By Chris Wilson

Today is Computer Security Day – a great opportunity to review your security infrastructure and ask the difficult question – ‘just how secure are we?’. Did you know, more than 80% of UK organisations experienced a successful attack in 2020/2021? Read our top 5 computer security tips to help protect your business.

Did you know that in 2020, there were 1.7 million computer misuse offences, an increase of 85% compared to the year ending March 2019? That’s a scary statistic.

There are some easy steps you can take to improve your computer security and reduce the risk of becoming another victim of a cyber-attack. Here are our top five tips for computer security:

1. Educate your team and look at what they do

In the battle against cybercrime, your team is your first line of defence and potentially your greatest weakness. Creating an awareness of the risks is key – do all your staff know how to spot malicious links in e-mails? Or how to tell if an email is coming from the source it claims?

Consider splitting your data into different categories and restrict access where relevant – does everyone really need access to everything? Make sure everyone logs on with a standard user account, not an administrator account.

If your team works remotely, then make sure you know how your data is being managed. Treat equipment used to access your network remotely (such as tablets, mobiles and laptops) exactly as you would your own desktop PCs, with all the same safeguards and use restrictions.

Avoid “free” Wi-Fi for anything other than casual browsing. Don’t send sensitive information as these services are often not secure and occasionally malicious in intent.

2. Protect your email by using a strong and separate password

Cybercriminals can use your email to access many of your personal accounts and find out vital personal information, such as your bank details, address, or date of birth.

Having a strong, separate password for your email means that if cybercriminals steal the password for one of your less important accounts, they can’t use it to access your email account.

Cybercriminals are very smart and know many of the simple substitutions we use such as ‘Pa55word!” which utilises symbols to replace letters.

Never use the following personal details for your password:

  • Current partner’s name
  • Child’s name
  • Other family member’s name
  • Pet’s name
  • Place of birth
  • Favourite holiday
  • Something related to your favourite sports team

This leads us neatly on to our next tip…

3. Use a password manager

The best practice to stay secure online is to use a unique password for each account, and they should each be at least eight characters and a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Naturally, these won’t be the easiest passwords to remember, so the best way to manage these is via a password manager. These programmes can not only securely store all your passwords, they can also generate unique passwords.

4. Turn on two-factor authentication

We strongly recommend two-factor authentication (2FA) for important accounts to make sure your data is secure.

Why do we want this? Because 2FA is the single best thing you can do to improve the security.

Accounts that have been set up to use 2FA will require an extra check, so even if a criminal knows your password, they won’t be able to access your accounts. This is reassuring if you suspect some of your passwords aren’t as strong as they could be, you’ve re-used them across different accounts, or you may one day fall for a scam email that reveals your password to a criminal (this can happen to any of us – they are professionals!).

5. Always back up your most important data

Safeguard your most important data, such as your business data and key documents, by backing them up to an external hard drive or a cloud-based storage system.

If your device is infected by a virus, malicious software (malware) or accessed by a cybercriminal, your data may be damaged, deleted or held to ransom by ransomware, preventing you from accessing it. Backing up your data means you have another copy of it, which you can always access.

If you are using an external hard drive to back up your data, make sure it is safely locked away somewhere in-between backups. Really it should also be stored on separate premises to the original data.

A cloud service is useful because you are saving a copy of your data elsewhere, hosted by someone else out on the internet. This means that if your device is stolen/damaged/you have a fire, or you suffer a ransomware attack, your data is not lost.

We hope you’ve found our tips useful – what measures will you be putting in place to improve your security? If you’d like to speak to one of our experts about how to make your business more secure, give us a call on 01392 205095 or email hello@nexusos.co.uk.

Nexus Social Security Day 2021