There is a lot of confusion about the difference between Cyber Security and Computer or IT Security. Many users assume it is exactly the same thing.

It isn’t.

But what are the differences and how can we protect our PCs, both networked and stand-alone from cyber-attacks?

Whilst there are of course overlapping elements and IT security and cyber security specialists often work hand in hand, the main difference is that;

·        IT/Computer Security protects the data that you have stored electronically.

·        Cyber security is more about taking precautions against unknown potential attacks in the future.

Keeping your Computer Safe

There are several ways of keeping your computer and therefore your data safe.

1.      Passwords: Rather than changing your passwords regularly, they should be difficult to crack: either really complex, for example: m1x 0fch@4@ct3r$ or as several dictionary words, a number and special character such as DuckHorseShoeEgg#2020.

We shouldn’t need to mention that writing passwords down in a diary or other obvious place is not advisable. If you must write them down, make sure they are safely locked away. Better yet, try a password manager such as Keeper or Bitwarden.

2.      Multi-factor Authentication: One password is not enough to be totally secure. By having multi-factor authentication, you are adding another level of security. So, in addition to a password you may be asked for a fingerprint, or an authentication code which will be sent to your mobile.

Microsoft has a series of password-less logins which leverages PIN numbers and Biometrics which offer 1 million permutations on a six-digit pin, or 10,000 on a four-digit pin so a lot more secure.

3.      Lock or log out: When not working on your PC, either in the office or at home, log out or lock the computer. Then no one can log in without your password. This is more important when working in an open environment.

4.      Do not click on links: When receiving emails from apparently legitimate accounts suggesting you click on a link to reset your login details, or make a payment, don’t do it. It is better to login to the website the way you would normally need to – anything you are being requested to do will be available on your account.

5.      Check the sender: When receiving an apparently legitimate email asking you to click on a link (see number 3) check the sender of the email. The addresses are often something like this osqbtryyoxa@yahoo.com. No legitimate company would have such random letters as a username and most big organisations will have a more easily identifiable email – for example firstname@SupportWise.co.uk, rather than Gmail or Yahoo etc.

6.      Avoid Public Networks: We all do it. We take advantage of unsecured Wi-Fi connections whilst we are out and about. If a network is unsecured, you really have no idea who can access your data whilst you are connected.

Most of these are common sense, and whilst most users are aware of what they should do, they chose not to because it may be inconvenient, time-consuming or challenging.

Taking Precautions Against Cyber Attacks

To protect against unforeseen attacks requires cyber security, and again this is something we are all aware of but do not always adhere to.

1.      Anti-Virus Software: Always ensure that you have the best anti-virus software you can afford, and make sure you keep it updated.

2.      Ensure all software/operating systems are updated regularly: Most operating systems will automatically update but other software may need some interaction from the user.  Whilst it may feel inconvenient, not only do updates improve the functionality of the software but are also essential for protecting against attack.

3.      Connect securely: When dealing with sensitive data, like bank details or personal data don’t do this over an unsecured network. Free Wi-Fi is great when we are out and about, but if it is unsecured, you are essentially opening yourself up for attack.

4.      Be aware of unsafe websites: When entering your personal details into a website, whether it is for online shopping or logging into a service ensure the URL has a little padlock in the corner. This means it is safe to use. Additionally, if you get a warning that a website’s security certificate has run out, don’t override it.

A cyber-attack can happen to anyone, and therefore it is better to implement as many safeguards as possible. It really is better to be safe than sorry. If you are unsure how to protect your data and computer networks, contact SupportWise today.