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How to keep your Computer and Network Safe

Keep all software up to date including the operating system

Software isn’t perfect. It’s bad enough that bugs in the code occasionally make a program crash. What’s worse is that cyber criminals are constantly seeking flaws in operating systems and other software, vulnerabilities that will let them steal your passwords, install malware, and otherwise give you grief. For these reasons it is vitally important that you install the recommended updates. Recommended updates can also address non-critical problems and also make your computer and network perform better.

Install antivirus and malware protection

This will protect against viruses and malware that can come from emails, files on disks or downloads from the internet. Make sure to use the very latest version of your antivirus or security suite. The bad guys are always inventing new tricks to try to correct your Computer and network. If you’re using an old security tool you won’t have the new fixes. If you make certain to keep these essential programs up to date, you should stay safe from most known threats.

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Keeping Computer and Network Safe for SMEs

We’ve all heard of the most recent cyber attacks; Ashley Madison, David Jones and K-mart to name a few. What many people haven’t heard is that in 2014, 60% of targeted attacks hit small and medium businesses1.

So why don’t we hear about the smaller scale incidents? In Australia, it’s not mandatory to report cyber attacks. To avoid reputational tarnish, customer dissatisfaction and the chance of repeat attack, it’s no surprise that most businesses choose to stay quiet.

Not only does being a small or medium business make you a greater target, the consequence is also greater than that of a large enterprise. According to research from the Ponemon Institute2, the cost of a cyber attack costs SMEs $755 per capita, more than double the $282 per capita that larger organisations get struck with. And according to a different study3, 60% of small organisations go out of business within 6 months of a data breach.

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Secure Your Business From Data Breaches

Identity theft is increasing on a global scale, with financial information and client records considered foundational data for cyber criminals that indulge in this practice, whether for strict financial gain or use in fraudulent transactions. The normal practice is that harvested data is used to create other accounts (such as bank, email or other) or indeed continue using existing accounts but changing passwords to prevent legitimate access.

Small to medium enterprises obviously store both financial and health information and are prime targets for hackers. In August 2014. These criminals do not care about your business information but focus more on your personal details such as date of birth, address, etc., using them for services or credit applications.

Australia has had its fair share of data breaches. In 2012, ransomware (software that locks down a computer until a ‘ransom’ is paid using an untraceable digital currency such as Bitcoin) was used to compromise the operations of a Gold Coast medical centre.

Luckily, with a little knowledge and some forward planning, you can protect your medical practice from most of these data breaches. I say most, as even large enterprises are successfully breached by highly skilled hackers on occasion and few servers can continue operation if thousands of hackers launch a simultaneous attack.

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A plan, some understanding and a few resources can keep the bad guys away…

Every business, whether large or small, needs to have a customer-facing website these days, and in the past twelve months Australians spent $17.5 billion on online retail sales. In fact, according to Avast Software, online shopping is Australia’s number one online activity, social media, banking and emailing…before we get down to adult content, illegal torrent sites and checking the weather forecasts, which are also in the top ten.

While this level of online activity is great for commerce in Australia, it also brings with it a host of problems – potentially very damaging ones. Companies and web developers know that a website needs security, but many business owners do not understand the depth of online threats that exist, and the ever-evolving complexity of attacks.

Regardless of whether a website sells directly to the public, or simply exists as a tool to host marketing information and contact details, an attack can be disastrous to business credibility and continuity. Imagine a client happily selling from the web one minute, then having to contact an entire customer base and explain that their security has been compromised. Payment details may have fallen into the hands of criminals, a foreign entity may be blackmailing the company or perhaps there has been a malicious attack and sales can’t continue as the online inventory is down.

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