Cyber crime is a growth business and will remain so for the foreseeable future with a recent report putting the economic impact of this crime at a staggering $445 Billion. Closer to home we’ve witnessed hackers targeting high profile sites such as TalkTalk and the online dating site, Ashley Madison. The fallout from not being able to keep data safe and secure from each of these security breaches in negative PR and business costs are significant.
TalkTalk’s estimated one-off costs to resolve this breach could be as high as £35million with a further reduction in revenue expected because of a drop in online sales. For Ashley Madison clients the impact could be much worse with personal details of a private nature being leaked online as the hackers effectively blackmail Ashley Madison via a set of demands.
As a small business you may believe that this is a phenomenon only applicable to larger businesses but online hacking can be an impromptu activity carried out by bored teenagers from their bedrooms who believe they won’t get caught and treat this behavior as a type of entertainment. Therefore the protection of data is an important factor to consider in both your business and personal life.
If your business holds personal customer information, then you are subject to the Data Protection Act of 1998 and you may have to register with the Information Commissioners Office. If in your personal life you shop or transact online then you need to protect yourself against identity theft and fraud.
There’s not much we can do to stop hackers accessing external sites that may store some of our own personal details but there are several things we can do to protect the data we store on our own PC’s and systems to make it more difficult for those with malicious intent, to access. For example:
- Make sure you install anti virus/anti malware software on your computers and mobile devices.
- If you can, use a (software and hardware) firewall to assist in blocking dangerous viruses and spyware.
- Be wary of suspicious emails asking you to click on a link.
- Always install system and software updates when prompted.
- Back up your data on a regular basis.
- Don’t use default log-ins or have the same password for every site you access. Yes, it’s a bind to remember different log-ins and passwords but if hackers access one, they’ll try to gain access other sites you use.
- Think about using a password manager such as LastPass (or pay for a better solution).
- Shred documents containing sensitive information.
- Regularly check your financial statements.
- Forward your post for at least 6 months after moving house.
Wireless technology providing 24/7 internet access through devices such as smart phones, smart TV’s and tablets continues to change the behavior of buyers and how we find solutions to our problems. The “internet of Things” will drive further change and help introduce new applications to collect and exchange data aimed at connecting the physical and online world in ways we haven’t yet considered.
Follow this advice and keep your data safe.
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Andrew Leon Walker