With over three billion internet users around the globe totaling roughly 40% of the population, the internet is rife with opportunities for hackers to steal users’ information. And with technology constantly evolving and the internet growing, it’s not likely to get safer anytime soon. It therefore pays to take extra precautions when surfing the web. We’ve compiled these three easy tips that can amp up your online security.
Tip #1: Use HTTPS
Short for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, HTTPS indicates that a website has an extra layer of security for its users. This layer encrypts data exchanged between a user’s browser and the web server that delivers the data that the user requests. To use a simpler comparison, imagine someone tapping your landline, but instead of getting to listen in on your conversations, they’ll hear people speaking in tongues instead.
In August 2014, Google Chrome, the world’s most popular browser, announced that having HTTPS makes your website rank higher in its search algorithm. And since October 2017, the browser began flagging non-HTTPS websites as not secure whenever users try to fill out something as simple as a contact form on it. In July 2018, Chrome started showing a “not secure” warning on any website that does not implement HTTPS, whether or not users are filling out a form there.
Because of Google’s measures, the security protocol has been widely adopted. Even if your website does not contain or ask for sensitive information, implementing HTTPS on it engenders trust and a sense of security among internet users, while staying left behind security-wise will make web visitors abandon or avoid you sooner or later.
Tip #2: Embrace multifactor authentication (MFA)
Since account credentials can be easily stolen via phishing attacks, username and password combos are no longer enough to keep bad actors at bay. To ensure that the one accessing an account is truly that account’s owner, additional identity authentication steps must be implemented.
These steps can involve the use of the account holder’s device — the one logging in must first verify their phone number, receive a one-time password on their smartphone, then enter that code in the access portal before the validity of the code lapses. Alternatively, MFA may ask for a face, retina, voice, or fingerprint scan for authentication. MFA can be a bit of a hassle for your internal and external users, but a little inconvenience is a small price to pay for immensely effective cybersecurity.
Tip #3: Update browsers and devices
Did you know that dated versions of browsers, operating systems (OSs), and even other software packages can create an easy entry point for hackers? Often, new updates are created specifically to fix security holes. And hackers are ever aware that people can be lazy, saving that update for another day that never seems to come. They’ll often try to take advantage of this, searching for outdated devices to infiltrate while their victims watch YouTube on last year’s version of Firefox.
Yes, installing an update might take 15 minutes of your time. But it can pay dividends in preventing a security breach that could cost you or your business thousands.
Looking for more tips to boost your internet security? Get in touch to find out how we can help.
Amidst the current climate of malware, hacks, and phishing scams, companies must take precautions when accessing the internet. Without safeguards, browsers that you or your employees use are vulnerable to cyberattacks that may cripple productivity and profit. Here are steps that your company should take to browse the net safely.
Prevent browser tracking
If you don’t like the idea of a third party (reputable or otherwise) being able to track your browsing habits, enable private browsing using built-in tools in your internet browser such as Chrome’s incognito mode. This offers protection against tracking by blocking third-party cookies as well as malware. Some browser extensions also boast secure Wi-Fi and bandwidth optimization and can guard against tracking and data collection from social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
While online ads may seem harmless, the truth is they can contain scripts and widgets that send your data to a third party. A decent ad blocking program will stop banner, rollover, and pop-up ads, and prevent you from inadvertently visiting a site that may contain malware.
Many blockers contain additional features such as the ability to disable cookies and scripts used by third parties on sites, the option to block specific items, and options to “clean up” Facebook, and hide YouTube comments.
Consider setting up a virtual private network (VPN)
Unfortunately, browser tracking and adware are not the only internet nasties that you need to be concerned about. Hackers can intercept sensitive data between two parties, allowing them to steal and corrupt valuable information such as bank details, login credentials, and other personal information. Installing a VPN can help solve this problem. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic, effectively shutting out anyone who may be trying to see what you’re doing.
Install antivirus and anti-malware software
Finally, it goes without saying that having antivirus and anti-malware software installed on your PC, tablet, and smartphone is crucial if you want to ensure your online safety. These software programs are your first defense against malicious parties intent on stealing your data.
Is browsing at your workplace secure? Would you like a more comprehensive security system for your business? We can tell you all about it and help protect your business from online threats. Get in touch with us today.
A clean work PC has now become essential in the wake of the developing worldwide Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. Things we used to take for granted now require much more attention. Keyboards and frequent-touch surfaces pose a significant risk in the spread of contact-transmitted viruses. Here’s how to properly clean your computers to help mitigate the threat.
Cleaning your keyboard
Because we use keyboards every day, they get a bit grungy, with debris accumulating between the keys. Before you start cleaning, be sure to unplug the keyboard, or turn it off if it is wireless. To clean the upper parts of the keys — where your fingers strike the keys — try dipping cotton swabs into rubbing alcohol and then cleaning the keys with a gentle rub. A light spray misting (from a distance) of a disinfectant spray such as Lysol or Clorox can also be reasonably effective, however, be sure not to actually wet or soak the surface, or you may short out the electronics. Whatever your preferred method, be sure to let it dry thoroughly before reconnecting.
To clean between keys, you will need compressed air, which can be purchased at most office supply and computer stores. Spraying in between keys should be enough to get rid of most of the dust and grit.
Cleaning your mouse
Like the keyboard, the mouse can get quite dirty with grime from your fingers and dust. To clean a mouse, unplug it first then use cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol to gently clean it. You may also follow the light misting instructions for keyboards as well. Again, be sure to let it dry thoroughly before reconnecting. There’s no need to open your mouse, as most models are designed to not be opened by users.
Cleaning desktop monitors
Employees spend many hours looking at their computer monitors, and a clean monitor makes it easier for them to do their tasks. The best way to clean your monitor is to turn it off first and gently wipe the screen with a microfiber cloth.
If there are still spots, try dipping the cloth in a tiny bit of water — make sure you don’t spray water onto the screen. Don’t press too hard on the screen, as this could damage your monitor’s pixels. Also, it is not a good idea to use paper products like paper towels or tissues, as they will not only leave a residue, but may also slightly scratch the monitor.
Cleaning mobile screens
Mobile and other touch screen devices will usually get your fingerprints all over them. The best way to clean these screens is also with a microfiber cloth. For tougher spots, dip the cloth in a small amount of water and then gently wipe the screen. Don’t splash water onto the device itself, as water could get inside, ruin internal components, and void the warranty.
Some people suggest rubbing alcohol to remove fingerprints and disinfect the device. While this will be okay for some screens, many manufacturers recommend against it because the alcohol can eat away at the protective film on some devices.
If you notice that there is a lot of dust or gunk on the edges of your screen, or even in cracks, you may need to take the device to a mobile shop for more thorough cleaning. Do not open the device yourself, as this could void the warranty.
Cleaning your laptop’s body
To clean your laptop’s body, turn it off, unplug it, and clean it with cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol, or Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or a similar cleaning agent. Be careful not to scratch the sensitive components of the body.
Cleaning your computer tower
You may also clean the desktop computer’s tower by taking a slightly damp microfiber cloth and wiping down the front and sides of the tower. However, we strongly recommend avoiding the back and certain areas of the front, as there are ports and components that could be easily damaged.
As always, be sure to disconnect the power source and all wires before cleaning, as any water damage could ruin your computer.
Cleaning the inside of your computer
Dust will eventually get inside your computer and clog up cooling fans, causing them to stop working properly. This can potentially lead to other components overheating. The internal components of your computer are extremely fragile and need to be handled with great care. Do not take the case off of your computer, as this usually voids your warranty. If you feel you need the interior physically cleaned, please reach out to us to schedule an appointment.
For all of your computer needs, our technicians are here to help.
The bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon continues to rise in the workplace. There are a number of benefits and risks that BYOD brings. For it to be successful, you must balance employee freedom and data security. Here’s how you can do that.
Whether your employees are using smartphones, tablets, or laptops, you need a BYOD security policy. Additionally, you need to be aware of the key BYOD security risks:
- Loss or theft of device – Employees often bring their personal devices wherever they go. This means there’s a higher chance of devices being lost or stolen, and a greater risk of the company data that’s stored or accessed on these being compromised.
- Data loss – In the event that a device is lost, stolen, or damaged, any locally stored data may be lost permanently if it’s not backed up in real time.
- Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks – Public Wi-Fi spots are convenient for getting some work done, but they’re also popular hunting grounds for cybercriminals who use MITM to intercept data being transmitted over public networks.
- Jailbroken devices – Jailbreaking is the process of removing the restrictions imposed by the manufacturer of a device, typically to allow the installation of unauthorized or third-party software. This increases the risk of an employee inadvertently installing malicious software on a personal device.
- Security vulnerabilities – Every operating system (and the software that runs on it) has its own unique set of security flaws and vulnerabilities, which means that allowing staff to use any device and operating system increases the risk of a data breach or malware infection.
- Malware – A personal device that has been infected with malware can spread that malware to other devices connected to the company network and cause data loss and downtime.
To mitigate risks, it’s important to devise a BYOD security policy that works for the needs of your business as well as the needs of your employees. Here are some tips:
Make passwords compulsory on all BYOD devices
Prevent unauthorized access to company data by enforcing the use of passwords on all BYOD devices. Passwords should be long and unique.
Create a blacklist of prohibited applications
Blacklisting involves prohibiting the installation of certain applications on BYOD devices that are used for work purposes. This includes applications such as file sharing and social networking apps. The simplest way to blacklist applications is through a mobile device management platform that enables IT administrators to secure and enforce policies on enrolled devices.
Restrict data access
Adopt the principle of least privilege on both BYOD and company devices. This means that a user is able to access only the data and software required to do their job. This can reduce the effects of certain types of malware and limit the fallout in the event of a data breach.
Invest in reliable security solutions for devices
Protect BYOD devices with reputable antivirus software to identify and stop threats before they can make changes to the device. This is vital for protecting mission-critical data and avoiding downtime.
Backing up device data
A well-thought-out BYOD policy can go a long way toward minimizing the risk of a security breach, but if something manages to slip past your defenses, you need a process in place for restoring your data to its former state. Have a comprehensive backup strategy to ensure that any data stored locally on a BYOD device can be quickly recovered.
Educate your staff about security
The vast majority of BYOD-related security risks involve human error. Educate your employees about proper mobile safety. This includes how to spot apps that could contain malware, sharing security threat updates, and teaching them how to secure their devices by going beyond default security settings.
It’s also a great idea to work with an IT partner like us. As experts, we keep tabs on the latest trends and innovations related to BYOD and will recommend solutions that work for your company. Contact us today to see how we can help.