Cyber Security

About 6 months ago I listened to someone on the radio laughing at the theft of the NSA cyber snooping tools and saying that if someone wants to hear him ordering his pizza, who cares.  Alas the radio commentator never pointed out to them that a rogue listener would also have overheard this person’s credit card details when placing the order and when they were going on holiday so the house would be empty and their phone password for account access to their bank….. Cyber Security is serious, very serious, for everyone.

Within minutes of us going online, our devices are probed for weak points.  The objective is always the same, embedding rogue code on our device that can be used, often without our knowledge, for criminal activities.  Since 2016, we are more likely to be a victim of cyber crime than we are from traditional crime – all of it.  And yet, many people fail to protect themselves properly.  There is no 100% security.  There never was and there never will be – not just online either.  You cannot guarantee security but you can do your best to be safe by actively managing it.

This is nothing new.  If you think about it, we manage our security every day.  Take home security.  Each time we go out, most of us make sure the windows are closed and the doors locked.  Having a window or a door open, even while at home, creates openings for criminals.  We keep an eye on this, manage it.  If we can’t keep an eye on a ground floor, street facing open window and it’s  accessible by others, we would close it to be secure.  We need to manage our Cyber Security as well as, like with our homes and offices, people are constantly looking for opporutnities to break in.  When our devices go online, bots automatically look for these open doors and windows to our devices.

So what are these doors and windows and what do we need to do to manage Cyber Security?  Rather than over complicate things and try to cover everything, let’s focus on one thing, the endpoints – the devices we use (computers, mobile phones, tablets etc.).  If we can secure and manage them then we’ll be in a pretty good place.

1. There are two main things that all devices have in common – an operating system and software (apps).  Both of these receive very frequent security updates multiple times a month and on an irregular cycle – they are rolled out as breaches are found as security updates need to be deployed as quickly as possible.  If rogueware gets on your device through exploits in your operating system or software, it could run for years without your knowing and even upgrade itself.  We need to manage this to ensure that our devices receive the updates in a timely way, do not confuse a fake update with real updates and check that we are not tricked into allowing an ‘exception’ to our security.

2. This is where AV (anti-virus) comes in and is why we need it.  Criminals want to install things on our computer so they can control them and AV is the gate keeper to our devices.   AV helps us catch and stop ‘fake’ requests and behind the scene intrusions that criminals make to our devices in order to take them over.  It also helps us find and remove ones that slipped through – remember, there is no 100% security.  Good AV is now using AI (Artifiical Intelligence) to protect us faster and better but it is of course being probed for weaknesses as well.  And one of these is us letting things through without realising what we’re doing.  As well as this, AV has updates the same way operating systems and software do.  So AV needs constant vigilance and management as well.

Door and window and locks don’t get regular upgrades so their management is easy and we can do it ourselves – but we still call out a locksmith to do the work when there is an upgrade due or a lock or window is broken.  This is not the case with Cyber Security Management of our devices – updates and upgrades are happening daily.  Most of us don’t have the skills (when it goes wrong IT skills are required) or the  time or the interest to manage all of this.  The only solution is obviously a Managed Security service.  For both work and home! We can’t afford not to.

BTW, I love my tech but I am not allowing Alexa or google into my home for the forseeable future and yes, my laptop camera has a sticker on it.