The 'How to' Blog

Jun 10 2013   1:29PM GMT

Five steps to protect you and your business from hackers

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About the Author: Edward Jones works for Firebrand Training as a Content Strategist within the Marketing department. Edward spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, article titles and concepts for engaging infographics. You can check out a range of his most recent work via the Firebrand Press Page.

Hacking and cyber-crimes have reached new, scary levels of sophistication. The last two years have seen the likes of Sony, Nintendo, LinkedIn and even the CIA’s security being compromised. From an individual’s point of view, there are a few best practices which help prevent security breaches. While no one can guarantee fail-safe security measures, the following steps will make life difficult for the hacker:

1 – Get a better password

It’s amazing how many still use obvious passwords, which even the most inexperienced of cyber criminals could guess. For example, using your name and date of birth is a very weak combination, since such information is now easily accessible via social media etc.

Best practice for passwords includes:

• Don’t reduce. A mixture of characters, such as the odd exclamation mark instead of the number ‘1’, or ‘&’ instead of ‘8’ makes your password less guessable
• Don’t re-use. Use different passwords for different sites. Having one account hacked is bad enough
• Do recycle. Change your password frequently, and comprehensively.

2 – Get protection

One of the most fundamental steps. You need up-to-date, anti-virus and anti-malware software. There is some brilliant free software available. And switch-on your firewall too.

3 – Keep up-to-date

There are usually frequent updates released for operating systems and other software. These updates often improve security flaws. Hackers will know to target out-of-date versions if a security weakness is identified.

4 – Don’t lose it

Carrying sensitive data on a device is risky – but sometimes it’s needed. Look after your USB stick, external hard drive, laptop and iPhone. And encrypt everything in case the worst happens.

5 – Secure your wifi

Never connect to an ‘open’, untrusted wifi network. When you do connect, ensure you’re accessing the wifi via WPA (Wifi Protected Access). WPA2 – the most modern wireless security standard – is supported by most operating systems, and is difficult to hack.

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