Cyber crime continues to rise in both scale and sophistication, affecting essential services, enterprises and private individuals alike, costing the UK billions of pounds and causing untold damage. Most of us use the Internet professionally and personally every day, from online shopping, sending emails, collaborating on documents, to updating social media, and managing finances. Our ‘personal’ online activity makes us very attractive and increasingly vulnerable to cyber criminals attempting to steal passwords, data or money. With the blurring of work and personal life brought about by hybrid working, the steps we personally take to stay safe online are even more critical and have a greater impact on the businesses that we work with and for. Many cyber attacks can be prevented by following some basic security steps. Take a look at our recommended top 5 essential cyber tools to enable greater personal privacy and tighter security.
5 Essential Cyber Security Tools
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) recently reported that 15% of the population used pets’ names as online passwords, 14% use a family member’s name, and 13% pick a notable date, meaning millions of accounts could be easily breached by criminals using trial-and-error techniques to gain access to your accounts.
What’s more, most Internet users have a multitude of online accounts for shopping, banking, social media, email etc. Many individuals simply can’t keep track of all their account logins, so end up using the same password for all accounts. And if your password gets leaked online in a data breach, or hackers can see personal information such as family/pet names and birthday online, then they have a pretty good chance of gaining access to all of your accounts with just the one password.
To overcome the risk of weak passwords being reused on different websites, try using a Password Manager that securely stores passwords and automatically fills them into login pages, helping you protect every single one of your online accounts with a strong password. They encrypt your password database with a master password and that master password is the only one you will need to remember.
Virtual Private Network
One of the easiest ways you can improve your personal online security is by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when you connect to the internet. A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel that allows you to securely connect to a network and all your internet traffic is routed through this tunnel, secure from third parties along the way. As a result, you can safely use public WiFi as you would your home network. In addition, as many VPN services don’t monitor or record your connection to their servers, you have more anonymity while browsing the internet. VPN services are fairly cheap, starting at just a few pounds a month, and are easy to set up and use.
A Drive Cleaner
A drive cleaner will not only help speed up your computer by removing the unnecessary files taking up disk space, they also help to protect your privacy and security by securely erasing tracking cookies and browsing history. They are low cost, easy to install, and you can clear sensitive browser data, browser cache, cookies, passwords, history, and other site-related information, making your online footprint a little less obvious.
Antivirus/Malware Protection & Firewall
As well as protecting your online activity, you will need to protect the information stored on devices. Anti-Virus (AV) software detects, blocks and removes malicious software (malware) and other malicious viruses from your device, ensuring your data is not compromised. Your devices can become infected by inadvertently downloading malware that’s in an attachment linked to a dubious email, or hidden on a USB drive, or even by simply visiting a dodgy website. Once it’s on your computer or laptop, malware can steal your data, encrypt it so you can’t access it, or even erase it completely. For this reason it’s important that you always use antivirus software, and keep it up to date to protect your data and devices.
We believe that AV software isn’t enough to protect you from the sophisticated cyber attacks that are in place today, and that you should consider the next generation of anti virus software. Next-Generation Antivirus (NGAV) takes traditional antivirus software to a new, advanced level of security protection with EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response). Using predictive analytics driven by machine learning and artificial intelligence, and combined with threat intelligence, it is better equipped at detecting and responding to all cyber threats than traditional AV software.
A firewall is also an important tool when defending your data against malicious attacks. As an extra barrier, a firewall helps screen out hackers, viruses, and other malicious activity that occurs over the Internet and determines what traffic is allowed to enter your device. Modern Operating systems and modems come with inbuilt firewalls, so it’s important to keep software up to date.
With millions of laptops and mobile devices lost or stolen each year, you need to protect your data against physical theft. The most effective way to do so is to use storage encryption software. Full-disk encryption (FDE) is a form of storage encryption where the hard drive used to boot a system is encrypted. It is commonly used for protecting the confidentiality of sensitive data stored on desktops and laptops. FDE uses a password or, increasingly, biometric data to encrypt your hard drive, making it virtually impossible for an attacker to gain access. The use of FDE can mean the difference between a lost laptop being a minor inconvenience and a multimillion dollar data breach.
Making your cyber security a personal priority
Looking after your personal data should be a priority. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) provides a wealth of further support and advice for individuals and families to help you stay safe online.
If you are a business and need hands-on support then we are here to help. With more than 15 years experience in implementing mission-critical data security, risk, and compliance programs, we believe that a culture of preparedness is the only way to be cyber resilient. Get in touch with the Infosec Partners team to discuss how our security services can minimise the cyber risks to your business.