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Cyber security, passwords and some excellent advice from my friend Si

Over the last three months I’ve noticed that that more and more companies are succumbing to cyber threats and attacks. I hear about big companies like Yahoo in the news, and I have received notifications firsthand from three other relatively big ones, who have all informed me that their systems have been compromised and that I should update and change my passwords www.adobe.com, www.linkedin.com and www.payasugym.com (which I use when I’m on the road). These aren’t small companies, two are tech giants and given that LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft, it doesn’t bode well for the future if Adobe and Microsoft can’t protect my data and their data effectively!

It feels to me like its ramping up, getting worse before it gets better. Yesterday I received a notification from www.Logmein.com  another service that I use, that there had been an attempted login from France. I live in the US  it was flagged up for that reason. It’s great to know that it was only an attempt , however no doubt someday soon there will likely be a break-in. So what should a small business like mine do to protect itself?

What I did was write an email to my friend Si Thomson!  https://www.linkedin.com/in/simonthomson Si has been my IT guru for the last 17 years and asked him for his sage advice. Which he has given me and I think it’s so good that I’m sharing it with you. It’s not been edited so hopefully you will forgive some of his more flamboyant language!

Hey Brian,

Oh good god. This is becoming a nightmare. I’m sure you follow the rules of passwords – but I’m going to offload some of my advice and what I do personally because I hate friends and clients having these issues. 

  1. First point – It’s a complete pain but it works for me! When I am travelling I pass on what I know to clients and buddies alike – because this “cyber stealing” issue is just going to grow and grow. Sharing is caring (my edit couldn’t resist it).
  2. Use CCleaner http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner – every time you access Banking and any money related accounts. bother before and after access.  Tell CCleaner to wipe your passwords from Browser and Applications. This will at least keep the monetary side of things for you clear from any detail being recorded on your PC. It’s a complete ball ache because your passwords get wiped – but it keeps them from prying eyes.
  3. Anti Virus or more correctly – Security Software we use today as techs is Eset. eset.com. I did a seminar a few months ago with 30 techs. It was about VoIP. As a bit of fun at the end of the afternoon – I did a half hour “tech exchange” session, basically for everybody to enlighten everyone else on tech stuff! One of the areas that came up was Security. I asked what everyone ran on their devices. 70% of the techs ran Eset https://www.eset.com/us/ and of those – nearly half ran Malware Bytes https://www.malwarebytes.com/ as well.
  4. THIS IS THE BIG ONE – When Browsing the Internet and doing serious work accessing lots of site needing logins etc. – Use a VPN client. https://www.ipvanish.com and there is some great advice here as well https://www.cloudwards.net/free-vpn-services/ Why? because ALL the data Traffic going to & from your PC to the Internet is Totally 100% Encrypted (in a tunnel). It actually brings a new meaning to the use of VPN’s. We used them to connect thru to office systems from home for example. Well – why not use them to connect to the Internet? everything going from you to the Internet is potentially open to hackers. They just won’t bother with VPN Traffic. They’ll move on! You can even select which country you wish to connect to for the VPN. (This is nice).Governments of course won’t like this soon – because all the tracking of information from your PC to the Internet is encrypted. They’ll get nothing!
  5. Now of course this doesn’t protect you from having your details compromised by Microsoft, Adobe or any other systems. So what to do about that? Only the best that you can…… Change Passwords regularly and use a Password Company like Lastpass. https://lastpass.com This will build up every single site you access with a password – so you know what sites you have and what ones maybe you need to change regularly. Keeping passwords complicated and in excess of 10 characters is great but we forget. Not with Lastpass. And, if ever you have a key logger on your device, by not having to type the password in, and just selecting it from lastpass, the password isn’t typed in therefore not tracked. Lastpass runs on Windows and Apple and devices.
  6. Dual Factor Authentication. www.duo.com There will be other types out there – but this will pretty much eliminate access to accounts because you have to authorise the access!

If I was to be honest – the most important element of keeping your details and info safe – is point 4 – VPN.

I hope something in this quick brain dump helps you in some form Brian.

Cheers for now

Si

Thank you Si, your a top bloke. The information is so useful and I owe you one.If  you need Si to help you his contact details are on his LinkedIn profile https://www.linkedin.com/in/simonthomson

The final bit of information Si gave me was this infographic

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