5 Things You Can Do Today to increase your Security!

I write a blog almost every week on a different aspect of Cyber Security and threats to our data and digital lives. I wanted to write this article aimed more at the personal user with 5 things which you can implement today (for hardware you may need a couple of days for delivery) to improve your security. Please remember that there is No Silver Bullet for Cyber Security and that this is all about mitigating the risk and reducing the impact of Cyber Attacks.

    1. Invest in Anti-Virus
      1. Anti-virus scanners are not new. Norton and McAfee have been synonymous with AV since the late 90s. Now there are so many providers that it can be hard to choose. The simple truth is that they’re all about as good and bad as each other but for different reasons>/li>
      2. The best anti-virus to use is one based on Machine Learning, which depends on behaviours and intentions of programmes rather than on “recognized” virus signatures.
      3. For now though feel free to invest in McAfee, Norton, Kaspersky, Webroot, BitDefender or one of the others as you’ll still be reducing your vulnerabilities until an affordable and capable Machine Learning based alternative is available.
    2. Manage Your Passwords
      1. As I’ve noted on many occasions, there are countless passwords that individuals have to remember now. It’s a pretty safe bet to assume that if I was to get you to list every password that you have to use right now you’d miss at least one.
      2. Because of this I’ve been leaning more and more on Password Management applications. There are too many to remember and having my passwords written down in a notepad seems great at first, but every 90 days or so that notepad is going to get messier and messier. Also, having to retype character strings that are usually 8+ long (most of mine are now minimum of 16) hoping that I’ve not missed a letter, number or symbol in the process from my handwriting would have a very low success ratio.
      3. So I’ve been trialing and using various password managers over the past year or so (I’ve actually been using 1Password for a bit longer, but rather than become too reliant on one product I’ve diversified) I’ve come to one conclusion: I need this in my life.
      4. There are lots of options when it comes to picking the right solution for you, each of these have their pros and cons so it is really a personal choice but here’s a list of them to help make up your own mind.
        1. 1Password
        2. LastPass
        3. Dashlane
        4. RoboForm
        5. KeePass
        6. Sticky Password
      5. Bear in mind that if you use solely Apple products then you have access to Apple’s iCloud Keychain which synchronises passwords across your devices signed into the same iCloud account. Just make sure your iCloud password is as safe as it possibly can be.
    3. Filter your mail
      1. Every mail provider now has some form of Junk filter, which is great for reducing the amount of rubbish and spam appearing in your inbox. The filtering I’m talking about though is security based. There are several providers out there who will filter out emails which could contain malicious code or “phishing” attempts but just like Anti-Virus should be on every computer a mail filter should be on every email account.
      2. Some options are
        1. Mozilla Thunderbird
        2. CryptoPhoto
        3. PineApp
        4. PineApp
        5. Barracuda
        6. MimeCast
        7. Webroot
    4. Backup your data
      1. Yes, the second thing you’ll hear any IT technician ask (after “have you tried turning it off and on again?”) will be “Do you have a backup?”. But on average 75% of users don’t have a recent (within 72 hours) backup of their data. This could result in a loss of at least 3 days’ worth of work/photos/etc. Usually it’s a lot worse.
      2. There’s one simple solution: Set an automatic backup.
      3. The easiest and most cost effective solution is to buy a NAS drive (Network Attached Storage), this plugs into your router and you can schedule backups from your computer (and in some cases mobile device) to periodically happen in the background while the computer is on your network.
      4. A quick search of the most popular online stores brings up a plethora of results but here are some personal favourites:
        1. WD My Cloud
        2. Qnap
        3. Netgear ReadyNAS
      5. There are more options, but for the end consumer these are more “pocket friendly”, for a more business oriented solution it would depend entirely on the environment you work with.
    5. Firewall your life
      1. You should have heard the term “firewall” thrown about previously, whether it was disabling it on Windows so that you could install a piece of software or your tech-literate friend was just using jargon. A firewall protects a network or system from unauthorized access. So protecting your home or office from intrusion requires a firewall as a security guard.
      2. Firewalls are deployed in almost every professional environment where IT is involved and have (in general) not been deployed in the home because data is “less important” there. With the rise of “connected devices” and “Internet of Things” and the latest revelations from WikiLeaks it appears that our personal data is becoming a bigger, more vulnerable target. Most firewalls’ pricing is aimed at enterprise or SMB environments, but there are manufacturers working on home use firewalls. My personal favourites are:
        1. Bitdefender Box
        2. Cujo Smart Firewall
        3. Dojo – Please note, this device has been in pre-order for 12+ months and may not release.
        4. Cisco RV110W-E-G5-K9


If you have any questions about increasing security in your business I’m always happy to help, you can email me