15 cybersecurity tips for end users
Earlier in 2016, we looked at why sensible browsing may not be enough to protect your business from malware. There’s no doubt that the threat posed by malware continues to grow as people devise ever more inventive ways to circumvent antivirus software.
To help you keep your business safe, we’ll be posting a series of blogs about cybersecurity over the coming weeks. In today’s blog, we’ve put together out top 15 cybersecurity tips for end users – pass them on to your employees to help them protect their PCs and your network with confidence:
- Cybersecurity tip 1: Stay alert
Complacency is the nemesis of cybersecurity. Although it’s tempting to think that hackers have got bigger fish to fry and “it’ll never happen to me”, it’s important to stay alert and aware of potential threats.
- Cybersecurity tip 2: Be sure of links or attachments before you open them
Do you trust the source of an attachment? Were you expecting it? Do you really need it? These are all questions your employees should be asking before they open an email attachment.
It’s also important to be sure of any links in emails before you click on them. Are you sure the email is genuine? Does the URL look genuine? Even though the email may look like it is properly branded and from an official address, have you checked the sender?
- Cybersecurity tip 3: Be password savvy
Encourage your employees to be savvy about their passwords. We recommend the following:
- Use a different password for every website
- Use a strong mix of characters – letters, numbers and symbols (where allowed)
- Don’t write passwords down
- Don’t share your password with others
- Cybersecurity tip 4: Lock your devices
Urge your employees to lock their phones, tablets, laptops or desktop PCs if they’re going to leave them unattended.
- Cybersecurity tip 5: Don’t do sensitive browsing on a shared device or unfamiliar network
Many of us do our shopping or banking online these days, but urge employees to only do sensitive browsing where they’ll be passing over personal contact details or payment information on their own devices on a network they trust. They can also check that the site is secure by looking for https at the beginning of the web address, as well as a padlock symbol. These days, Google colour codes https websites in green.
- Cybersecurity tip 6: Remove Apple Quick Time
Back in April 2016, the Department of Homeland Security urged anyone still using Apple’s Quick Time for Windows software to uninstall it urgently. This is because the software has been found to contain critical vulnerabilities that make users open to hackers. Apple does not appear to have any plans these vulnerabilities.
If your employees use Quick Time, they should uninstall it. Before they do so, it is important to be aware that anyone using Apple ProRes, as well as some commonly used Quick Time formats such as Animation (import and export) or DNxHD/HR (export) may encounter problems with their workflow as a result of the uninstall. Adobe is working hard to make all of its features independent of Quick Time. We found a helpful article about this here.
- Cybersecurity tip 7: Keep your software up-to-date
It’s important to ensure that Windows, Java, Adobe Flash and Adobe Reader are all kept up-to-date. A system without updates is a vulnerable one. Both Adobe Flash and Java are frequently exploited by hackers, and software updates can help to address security threats.
Of course, don’t forget to keep your antivirus software up-to-date to make sure your network is protected against the latest threats.
- Cybersecurity tip 8: Back up
Last year, we blogged about the importance of having a data backup and recovery plan. This still holds true. Make sure that all data is backed up regularly so that you can retrieve it in the event of an emergency or virus hitting the network.
- Cybersecurity tip 9: Think before you plug in
Make your employees aware that viruses can be transmitted on to the system via external hard drives, mobile phones or flash drives. Before an external device is plugged in, are they sure it’s virus free?
- Cybersecurity tip 10: Protect your smartphone
Smartphones and tablets are as vulnerable to malware as PCs and laptops. Here at One Source Communications, we offer AVG Mobile antivirus software for that very reason. It’s essential to make sure that your staff have all protected their smartphones.
- Cybersecurity tip 11: Watch what you share on social media
Even if your staff only use social media from home and their personal phones, we’d encourage you to remind them to watch what they share and to check their privacy settings for everything they post. Just posting about holidays, where you work, pets’ or children’s names, etc., can give hackers a great deal of important security information.
- Cybersecurity tip 12: Verify callers before you give out information
Some cyber threats rely on tricking information out of people over the phone, in person or via email. Even if an email or phone call seems official, encourage your employees to take the caller’s name, number and company details and verify they’re genuine before passing over any contact details or data.
- Cybersecurity tip 13: Never cancel an antivirus scan
Ensuring that your antivirus software runs a regular system scan is an important line of defence against malware. Employees should always let the scans run and never skip past warnings that appear onscreen, even when they’re super busy.
- Cybersecurity tip 14: Is it really free?
As a rule of thumb, if something looks too good to be true, it usually is, especially in the case of internet freebies. Urge your employees to exercise caution when it comes to clicking on free offers, competitions or file sharing sites, as these are often associated with malware.
- Cybersecurity tip 15: Disconnect your PC from the network
If a member of staff thinks they might have a virus on their computer, they should disconnect it from the network immediately, even if this means switching off and unplugging their PC, and notify the IT department.
If you don’t have the scope for a dedicated IT department, support services are available through companies such as One Source Communications.
Need expert advice about cybersecurity? Give us a call on 08442 570 111 and we can help you find the right solutions.