If you are connected to the internet, you are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. You may not think this matters but data theft and viruses can cause a major disruption to your life. How would you feel if your device suddenly stopped working? Are you happy for other people to steal your personal information and use it against you? Does your computer store sensitive financial information that you don’t want other people to see?
Improving your cyber security is just as important as protecting your home from intruders. You wouldn’t leave your windows and doors open all night, so don’t let the digital equivalent happen to you either. It is estimated that, on average, 230 000 new malware are released every day. Data theft has become as common, if not more common, than the theft of physical property.
WonderNet offers advice on the best ways to improve your cyber security. We are a fibre provider to homes and small businesses across South Africa. and we understand the importance of keeping safe while making the most out of your online experience.
Are you using secure networks?
Free internet access sounds like a dream come true but, in reality, free WiFi comes with a cost. Public WiFi generally does not have any form of encryption that protects you from hackers. Connecting to unsecured public access internet leaves you highly susceptible to cybercrime as hackers can easily gain access to your device.
With free WiFi hotspots, there are often no firewalls. Firewalls prevent unauthorised access to your computer or device. It’s a good idea to turn off your WiFi when in public so you don’t automatically connect to an undesirable wireless network or Bluetooth connection.
If you really must use free public WiFi, then consider getting a VPN (virtual private network). VPNs encrypt your connection so that you can connect securely, even when using a public access point.
Are you running your business online?
These days, many small business owners and freelancers are running their entire operation online, with remote teams engaging in online collaboration. Using cloud-based services and emails to send and receive documents means there is an increased risk of sharing malware with others.
Cybercrime is estimated to have an annual cost of $10,5 trillion by 2025. Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are at the greatest risk because they cannot allocate the same budgets set aside for cyber security as large corporations. 60% of SMEs go out of business within half a year of data hacks or security breaches. More than half of cyberattacks are against SMEs, causing major financial and reputational costs to businesses.
Consider the cost from data that has been stolen, destroyed or tampered with. There may be productivity loss due to system downtime. Intellectual property may be stolen. You may be at risk of financial scams and fraud. You might also have to pay a hefty sum to restore hacked systems.
By limiting access to your networks and devices, entrepreneurs and freelancers can go a long way in protecting themselves against cybercrime. Make sure all data is backed up so that if an issue arises, you can keep working. The next step is to ensure that everything is up-to-date.
Are you updating regularly?
Consider turning on your automatic updates so that you don’t keep clicking on “remind me tomorrow” when an update becomes available. Having the most up-to-date operating system and software means that you are less likely to fall victim to a data security breach.
Updates often include security updates as software developers learn how to improve their apps and programs. Patches and enhancements help to fix security vulnerabilities. Older versions are generally easier to hack, so keep your laptops, smartphones and other devices up-to-date.
Uninstall any software or application that you aren’t using anymore. If your subscription has lapsed and you don’t intend to renew, delete the software. You are probably not paying much attention to unused software, so this leaves you open to cyber security risks. Similarly, delete any old accounts that you aren’t using anymore. This will help to protect your personal information, especially if you’ve shared quite a bit of it online.
Are you careful about what you share online?
More of us are working or studying online because of Covid-19. Because of this, we share more data and we may have some security blind spots. Be careful about the personal information you share online, especially on your social media accounts. If this information is hacked, cyber criminals can use it against you in scams or phishing attempts.
Change your security preferences so other people don’t automatically see your phone number, or other personal details about you such as your date of birth, workplace and home address. Likewise, improve your physical security. Don’t write down your passwords and stick them up on the wall above your desk. Avoid leaving printed-out documents lying around which may help fraudsters access your data.
Do you think twice before making online payments?
If you think your online accounts have been hacked, then change your password immediately. This is especially important with your online banking or other financial accounts. Monitor your bank accounts for suspicious activity. Sometimes, small amounts can come off as direct debits. You probably won’t get a notification of these transactions because the amount is so low. If this goes on for a few months or years, the amount can add up.
Before making online payments or setting up direct debits, think twice! Make sure you are interacting with a trusted source and, where possible, set up multi-factor authentication (MFA). With MFA, you have to provide two or more means of evidence in order to access your account. For example, you have to enter a pin or password and then confirm login on another device.
Take action to improve your cyber security
We are all responsible for keeping ourselves safe online. Help your family and friends, especially older and younger generations, understand cyber threats and what they can do to prevent cyber crime from taking place. Engage in device housekeeping, ensuring that your software and operating systems are up-to-date.
Use security software to regularly scan your devices for viruses or malware. Be aware of what you share online and via emails, with the knowledge that everything you share online can leave you open to security risks. Using secure networks is a must for small business owners as well as other individuals who spend a lot of time online.
Avoid free access WiFi as this can leave you open to security breaches. As a supplier of fibre to homes and small businesses throughout South Africa, we hope to raise awareness of cyber security, keeping ourselves and our customers safe. For a fibre internet upgrade to your home or office, please contact us today or check if we’re connected to your address.