November 12, 2015

When you are browsing the internet, downloading files and reading emails, you are constantly at risk. It’s a scary thought, we know. However, the unfortunate truth is that a cyber-attack can come from anywhere. It could be embedded in an email or even inside an advert on an unscrupulous website. So, what can you do to protect yourself online?

Here are our top 10 tips to stay safe online.

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1. Keep passwords long and strong

Although it can seem like the whole world wide web is against you, it’s not. It’s a revolutionary tool that has changed the way we work and connect with each other. Unfortunately, there are a few bad eggs that ruin it for the rest of us. However, sometimes we ruin it for ourselves. For instance, we do ourselves no favours by using easy-to-crack passwords such as ‘password123’.  Your data might as well be printed on a billboard. Unsurprisingly, the Cyber Crime Reduction Partnership recently announced that poor passwords are the number one cause of data breaches.

So, if you want to keep everything safe and secure, it’s time to get that grey matter going. By thinking up a password that ideally contains 8-12 characters or above, uses a combination of letters and numbers, and places them in a random assortment, you’ll be well on your way to cyber-safety. To test the ‘strength’ of your password, use this password checker from Microsoft. Also take a look at our guide to creating strong passwords that are easy to remember.

2. Keep passwords varied across separate accounts

However, there is one thing that is just as important (if not more so) than using a strong password; using different passwords for each account and website. If there is a data breach and your password for a stock image website is leaked online for instance, it might not seem too great of a threat. However, if you use that same password for everything, once someone has cracked one password, they can access everything. Not only does this leave you with a major security breach on your hands, but you’re going to lose valuable time changing the passwords for every account, if you can still access them! Cyber-criminals will often take control of a victim’s accounts and blackmail their owners, demanding a ransom to let you back in.

3. Use a password manager if you need help

Is your password simple because it’s also simple to remember? Do you think that if you have a complicated password, you’ll forget it within a matter of minutes? Perhaps you should enlist the services of a password manager. No, it’s not a job role you should be listing. Password managers are programs and apps that are designed to help you not only remember your passwords, but also take control of them.

Some password managers also come with advanced features designed for businesses. So, IT managers can distribute and revoke passwords to individuals and whole teams; perfect if your company use a lot of freelancers that only need temporary access to a specific folder or certain files.

4. Have a security policy

Long, strong and varied passwords should be the first thing you add to any security policy. Another thing to consider would be advising employees against accessing company data via personal devices, such as a tablet or their mobile phone. If it was lost or stolen, there could be massive implications, especially if your company doesn’t have anything in place to remotely wipe the device of all private data.

5. Move your data to the cloud

However, if your employees need to access company data on their personal devices for whatever reason, they should do so in a safe and secure manner. To do this, you could move your company’s data to the cloud. Synextra’s cloud servers are so much more secure than onsite servers because they’re designed to withstand the most sophisticated of cyber-threats.

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6. Virtual Desktop

By storing all data and programs on Virtual Desktop, everything is safe and sound on a remote server. If a member of staff’s laptop is stolen, the account can be locked remotely, preventing those in possession of the laptop from gaining access to the company’s data and potentially reeking havoc and destroying years of work. Sadly, if the data was stored on the laptop, you’d be powerless to do anything.

7. Educate employees

Thankfully, Virtual Desktops are just as easy to use as regular ones and so there’s no need for extensive training days in order to equip employees with the knowledge they need to make the most of them. However, we’d definitely recommend educating employees on the basics of cyber-security and the threats they may face online. This can go a long way to preventing future data breaches.

The best way to educate yourself and others within your team is to read. Stay up to date with the latest technology news and best cyber-security practices by visiting informative websites, that don’t require a degree in computer sciences to understand. There are plenty out there and hopefully, you consider our website to be one of them.

8. Have protocols in place for terminating access to data

In order to protect sensitive data and passwords, it’s important to have protocols in place to terminate an employee’s access to important data if they leave the company. If an employee was to continue to access vital company data after they left, they could cause serious problems for the business. However, by using a password manager like Dashline for Business, you can revoke a user’s access with the click of a button. And, if you’re using a cloud based server from Synextra, you have access to secure, off-site backups – to give you added peace of mind.

9. General email security

The last thing you want is an employee (or worse, ex-employee) using their work email account for personal use. All you have to do is sign up to one bad website and you’re asking to be sent thousands of spam emails. Some of which might contain viruses and other malicious files or links.

10. Hosted Anti-Spam

Luckily, even if one of your employees does use their work’s email address for anything that isn’t work related, Hosted Anti-Spam can protect your work email from 91% of online phishing attacks. If you’re wondering why it doesn’t protect 100% of online phishing attacks, that’s simply because the other 9% don’t occur through email.

Even though there are hundreds of ways for cyber-criminals to target you and your company’s valuable data, you only need to take a few precautionary steps to protect yourself online.

If you feel that you need some IT support to stay safe online, get in touch with the Synextra Support Team today.