Cyber Security – tips from a member

Cyber Security – tips from a member

As more and more of our business life moves online, it’s crucial to know the steps to take to keep ourselves and our data safe. We spoke to Karl from itcent.re about what cyber security is and how to stay safe online.

 

Hi Karl, tell us about your business

 

My name is Karl Mitchell and together with my business partner James Creese, we set up  itcent.re in 2018. We’re based in North Shields with our office in the Centre for Advanced Industry at Coble Dene but we work with clients from all over the UK, including Kent, London, Felixstowe and Gerrards Cross.

 

We’re a small but perfectly formed team of myself as Operations Director, James is the Technical Director and Ollie Dog is our Barketing Director.

 

Day to day we provide Managed IT and Security, IT support, business broadband, leased lines and ethernet services, Voice-over-IP (VoIP), Microsoft 365 licensing & support, and webhosting.

 

What advice would you give to other businesses about keeping their IT systems safe?

 

As with any aspect of IT, cyber security has a habit of becoming very complicated very quickly. When we talk about cyber security, we frequently see people’s eyes glaze over, so we’ve simplified our tips to avoid boring people! I’ve also tailored the tips to micro and small.


Below are our tips for maintaining a minimum level of protection:

  • Use a password manager – This enables you to have a unique password for every system, website or app you use without having to remember them all. You just need to remember your master password to access the manager. Reusing passwords can be a weak point for us all. Using a password manager will protect your accounts from data breaches and will help prevent phishing attacks as a good manager will only fill in details for recognised websites and apps.

 

  • Enable multi-factor authentication wherever possible – MFA helps protect your accounts by adding another level in authentication when signing in. Any attacker would need to steal your password AND your MFA device (typically a mobile phone) to access your account.

 

  • Enable disk encryption – Disk encryption such as BitLocker on Windows and FileVault on macOS help protect your data from theft or accidental loss by encrypting the data on the storage drives on your computer. This will prevent your data from being exposed and potentially costly fines from the Information Commissioners Office.

 

  • Email security – Email is the most common source of attack by cyber criminals. It pays, therefore, to have a good email defence. An email security solution should protect you from viruses, malware and malicious code hidden in emails.

 

  • Install antivirus, firewall and web protection software – Such security software will protect you from malicious files brought in either via email or a compromised USB stick. It will also protect you while you’re browsing the internet. A suite that has antivirus, antimalware, ransomware protection and firewalling is known as Endpoint security. There are a wide range to choose from but whatever your choice, make sure you set an uninstall password and require a password to make changes to the settings, configure daily full scans of your system and update it hourly.

 

  • Use a single Administrator for your system – If you have a team of users, make sure there is only one individual Administrator login that has a unique username and password. This login should only be used for tasks such as installing updates, upgrades and new software or drivers. Other users should only have standard permissions.

 

  • Keep your systems and software up to date – This point is crucial. If you don’t update your software when updates are available, you’re leaving the door wide open to attacks by hackers. Switch on automatic updates on your operating system and software and don’t forget to update the drivers and firmware on your device too. It’s also important to update your network devices such as your router, printer, Wi-Fi access points and network attached storage devices.

 

  • Carry out regular backups – Working and useable backups are crucial to restore your data should you experience loss, theft, hardware failure or a ransomware attack. Use a dedicated backup application or service to ensure your data is protected properly. A copy of your files on a USB is NOT a backup. You should also regularly test your backups, by restoring data to ensure your backups are usable and you’re familiar with your backup solution. When backing up your data, use the 3-2-2 rule. Keep three copies of your data. Store those copies on two different devices as well as keeping two copies offsite.

 

  • Embrace the cloud – Using cloud services such as Microsoft 365 and Google’s G-Suite can benefit small businesses in many ways. They increase productivity, allow collaboration between colleagues and enable sharing and re-using of data to help maintain regulatory compliance with the GDPR. They will also protect your data, making sure there’s an offsite copy. Documents and data saved to the cloud can be accessed via log in from any computer anywhere in the world.

 

Find out more about The ITcent.re, visit their website at www.itcent.re

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