How To Protect Yourself Against Cyber Threats

Protecting ourselves from cybercriminals has become an important element of daily living in the modern world.

Guarding against cyber threats is now a priority for businesses and private individuals alike, with news reports of cybercrime in the headlines on an almost daily basis.

The fact that there are such a vast array of criminal activities that fall under the catchment of ‘cybercrime’ means that is increasingly difficult to make certain you are completely protected.

Although the benefits of an interconnected world are self-evident, the risks are all the more dangerous due to the Wild West nature of the internet. So just what are the best steps to take that ensure you are protecting yourself and your business in an online world?   


   First steps – Passwords

Simple steps such as making certain that you use a strong password or passphrase, installing the latest firewall, and using anti-virus software are the basic steps to protecting ourselves, whether we’re looking at a private individual’s online safety or that of a business.

This extends to your social media as well, because people often forget how much a criminal is able to learn about your life if they have access to your Facebook account or Reddit username?

Take this to the next level, and how much information would a criminal have if they have access to the social media details of your business? From private chats to customer data, you have an obligation to ensure that your data is as safe as possible at all time.


Password Best Practice 

We’ve previously listed best practice for passwords in this blog, citing the correlation between the length of a password and how long it takes to crack…


“6 characters = 1,000 seconds 7 characters = 1 day 8 characters = 115 days 9 characters = 31 years 10 characters = 3,000 years” – Robert Graham, Dark Matters 


So keep your passwords long in length – so long as you can remember it!

To expand on this, Graham suggests using an ‘international character’ such as an umlaut. This should be enough to confuse hackers as they process the variations.


“Including just one international character, like a vowel with an umlaut, will defeat most password crackers. They can be typed by holding down the key and typing a -three-digit number on the numberpad.”



   Staff training


Often it is simply a case of stressing the importance of a strong password or pointing out the dangers of clicking an unknown link, but the fact is that business security has a major weak point in its staff.

Everyone who has access to sensitive data (and even those that don’t have access), need to have the training to ensure good online practices, and it is often best to utilise the help of trained professionals to take over this, with companies such as Torix suggesting that an initial Security Assessment and penetration testing service is a good starting point.   


   Recognise what’s important


Online security should not be an element of your life or business that you dismiss as unimportant. Your life could change in the blink of an eye if cybercriminals target you, with financial risks as well as personal risks to take into account. It takes an estimated two hours for an accomplished cybercriminal to mine important data from something as seemingly harmless as your Facebook posts, with everything from your date of birth, address and lifestyle being all factors that will make it easier for them to use your identity to commit further criminal acts.

If you become the victim of cybercrime, then your options are to contact the police on 101 or go directly to Action Fraud, the national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre. Before it comes to that, make sure that you protect yourself in advance, whether by updating your security settings or contacting professionals for expert advice.   Got a question? Drop it in the comments and we’ll get straight back to you.   

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