Why is this so difficult? Why can’t I just do this? These sentences , and many others, have been muttered since computers became mainstream. Users want to just get on and “do stuff” while the tech guys want to make sure the network and all its systems are secure. It is an ongoing battle between the two which is never ending. But which camp should get precedence?
Recently there has been a string of high profile announcements about viruses and attacks being carried out around the world. From Heartbleed to Cryptolocker the threats are very real, and should be taken very seriously, however a large number of businesses and individuals don’t seem to care. They would rather just get on with their daily tasks and don’t want any additional security measures implemented as they might get in the way.
So what security measures should we all be using then? This will differ from from company to company but the general consensus is:
1. Use encryption. If you have a laptop for work (or even a PC in a location which is not fully secure) then it should be encrypted because if they do get stolen all your data is then freely available.
2. Use antivirus and make sure you renew it. This is one I see a lot. Clients have gone out and bought a new machine for their business and then don’t install antivirus after the initial trial has expired. You then leave yourself wide open to all the nasties on the internet.
3. Use proper passwords. Don’t use password, your name or anything else which is easily guessed. These should be changed often and remember not to right them on postit notes!!
4. Dont open any email attachments unless you know what you are opening. This goes for any files in general. So for example if you are given a USB stick to copy a file onto your system make sure you know where the stick has come from and what is actually on it.
5. Put a passcode on your phone. A lot of us use our phones for work but what happens if you lose it? At the very minimum put a passcode on it. You can also add security locks to individual apps (eg Dropbox) so even if someone does get into the phone your data is still safe.
6. Be careful what you are downloading from the internet. This is one of the majors issues I see (in business and also home users). One of the main advantages (and disadvantages) of Windows is that you can download software from virtually anywhere on the internet. Make sure you know which site you are downloading from but more importantly make sure you are only downloading the software you want to and no add ons (eg Ask toolbar etc).
These simple steps can be annoying for an average user who just wants things to work (I have been there and fully understand) however with so many threats going around at the moment it is crazy to not protect yourself and your systems from attack.
So next time you think all this security stuff gets in the way just ask yourself on question – do I want security or convenience?
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