Securing business data

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Staying safe online - What to do in light of the Facebook scandal...


This article was updated on 30/05/18.

The news is now widespread that more than 50 million Facebook user’s data has been accessed and allegedly misused by Cambridge Analytica. This has led to many people being concerned with how they can protect their data online.

Simon Thorpe, Director of Product at Twilio, says: "With every major data breach, more and more personal information (especially passwords) becomes available to cyber criminals. Consumer security fatigue mixed with massive proliferation of online services, such as banking, healthcare, social media, gaming, news and insurance means the need has never been greater for improved account security."

In light of what has become one of the most shocking abuses of personally identifiable information, we’ve put together a few tips that are designed to help you be safer online:

Caring about sharing

  • Joanna Wells, of Taylor Wells was quick to state: "Be careful with how much, and what you share. Remember that the information you put up on the web remains in the ether forever. It’s crucial to bear this in mind, as what you share can be used in a number of ways, such as online identity theft. If there’s a enough information about you out there, it can be easy for criminals to impersonate you."
  • Thomas Jreige, Managing Director at Focus Cyber Group, says: "Self censoring is a very difficult topic because every person has a different perception on the sensitivity of information. However, the best way to know what to post on social media and how to go about self censoring it, is this. When you post on social media, take a step back from the post, read it, and always ask the question, "Am I going to offend or can this post be perceived by someone to the point my reputation or personal safety will be compromised?".  If you can answer 'yes' to that question, chances are you should not post that information.

Setting the boundaries

  • Aodhan MacCathmhaoil from believes "if you’re using social media sites like Facebook, make sure your privacy settings are at the level you want them to be." All too often social media sites will have generic settings applied to your account. I personally always change these setting in order to meet my security requirements. I want to be in control of things such as people sharing my location (if I’m out with a group of friends) or people haring pictures of me. These things are key to maintaining privacy and will put you at less risk of exploitation by potential criminals.
  • This is something that Andy Egan, Managing Director At Adept IT, agrees with. He advises: "With Social media, you should pay close attention to your privacy settings, rather than having everything you post be public, set it to "friends only" by default. There's a wealth of information that no one ever thinks about.

Don't be so predictable

  • "Rule 101, don’t use the same password everywhere, and always make sure to choose something complex." - Lilo, an award winning web design agency. Many people are guilty of this, choosing a password because it’s easy to remember. Further compounding this, people will often take that same simple password and apply it to every account they hold. This is the biggest mistake that people make and it can leave you vulnerable to hacking and identity theft.
  • In regards to choosing a secure password, Ruth Dearing, Owner of Children & Technology, adds: "As most sites now suggest, passwords should be at least 8 characters long, or preferably more. Given they should include a mixture of capital and lower case letters, numbers and symbols, I just literally let my fingers move all over the keyboard randomly. The result is a completely meaningless combination of characters - which is perfect. Of course, there's no way I could ever remember any of my passwords, which is why I'd highly recommend a password manager. I use Lastpass and love it.

Two is better than one

  • Use two factor authentication (2FA) wherever you can. As Andrew May, Computer Technician at PC Repairs Adelaide explains: "2FA or 2 Factor Authentication (or multi-factor authentication) is an additional layer of security added to your account. The best scenario we all know is when you log into your online banking you are sent another code to your mobile phone to complete the login." Even services like Gmail now encourage 2FA. This extra layer of security means that your accounts are safer and have less likelihood of being breached.
  • Brett Ogilvie, Managing Director & Principle Consultant at Celtech Energy Systems, adds: "2FA provides the ability to be more definitive about identifying and authenticating the person accessing a system by checking something they have on them AND some secret they know. This provides a significantly higher level of security over just a password."

Read the Terms & Conditions

  • Alex Morrison from Fully Gaming says: " The main mistake people make is accepting anything and everything without checking what they've just signed up to. You know those terms and conditions that you skip every time you agree to download something for free? Well, there's a reason that thing was free, and it's probably because they're monetising your data.

Protecting client data

Michelle Joose, Chief Executive Officer at Hotline IT, provides the following additional tips for businesses to ensure their HRM and IT policies are reviewed.

  • Ensure PCI DSS Compliance and other regulatory processes are implemented, regularly reviewed and governed.
  • Ensure all IT Operating Systems and Applications are regularly updated and patched
  • Ensure HR and IT Procedures are set to deactivate and disable access for when staff leave
  • Ensure users have the correct methods for mobile tethering or use of public WiFi hotspots to reduce insecure or unauthorized access
  • Any remote or removable storage usage for all users has appropriate controls or policies in place (e.g. USB’s External Drives, Cloud Storage)
  • The above policies are applied to remote workers whether they are on the road or from home to avoid uncontrolled or non-governed Internet links connecting to the corporate network.
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