During the past number of weeks, we can see the devastation a cyber attack had on the HSE; they now face the prospect of rebuilding their entire IT infrastructure from the ground up and repopulating it with all their data, a mammoth task. It is also fair to say the private users and small companies get their fair share of issues/ attacks/ ransom ware, so what can we learn from a security perspective?
Well, if we analysis the risk, we know there is certainly a viable threat from independent hackers, ID thieves, hacker groups & collectives, state sponsored hackers (including Russia, North Korea) and of course, good old home grown snooping from UK, US and European information and intelligence services. So what can you do, especially if you are not IT savvy to protect yourself, well here are my top 10 tips and tricks (you can thank me later):
- Keep your software up to date, ensure your operating system and all essential programs and apps are up to date, and have been patched as required. See YouTube for how to:
- Make sure you have a firewall and it is working, windows 10 comes with firewall installed and running. See YouTube for how to:
- Use a good antivirus and keep it up to date. This is your go to software for security, you can get a good free one or a great paid for package. See here for more details:
- Use good passwords; this is something I see everyday even in big companies passwords like “password” “12345” “qwerty”, if you have passwords like this, you are just asking for trouble.
A good password has letter, numbers and symbols, for example “23gtH”$3en89” try cracking that one….lol. You can also get a password manager to remember all your complex passwords:
- Back up your data to an offsite location. IF you have all your files on one computer and it stops working or gets stolen, all your files are gone. You must back up your files to an external drive or a cloud, preferable offsite, in case there is a flood or fire. Some options are here:
- Avoid pirated material, when you install pirated material you have no idea what is also being installed on your computer, spyware, key-loggers, ransom ware, and camera spy. You have been warned!
- Be careful on the internet (particularly on dodgy sites, you know what I mean), use an up to date browser, up to date software and a good VPN to protect yourself.
- You might also consider using a private browser like epic, which block trackers, deletes cookies, and destroys surf data.
- Don’t open email attachments unless you know they are from a reliable source – You must know this by now – it has been good advice for the past 20 years. When you get a spam/ junk email from someone, just delete it, DON’T OPEN THE ATTACHMENT.
- If you get a call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft IT support or anyone else and they want you to grant them access to your computer to “fix something”, just say no.
I hope this few basic precautions will keep you out of trouble when on-line, I will write a follow up to this article in the coming weeks.
Stay safe guys, Ronan.