February 4, 2022

Put a lid on it: keeping data safe is your priority

— Author: Gerard Fogarty

The conversation around data privacy ebbs and flows depending on how much the latest security breach has cost the victim. Cybersecurity threats are only going up from here on out. Malware attacks have risen by 358%, and ransomware by 435% in 2020. Cybercrime will cost USD 10.5 trillion annually by 2025.

Data privacy should be a top priority for every company – I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face. If you’re trying to get, more budget allocated for data security in your firm, get in touch. I will ring your manager and tell them too.

Each company needs to keep their data safe, and employees are the first line of defence. On Data Protection Day, I present four simple yet important data security tips. I’ve learnt them the hard way, so your company doesn’t have to.

Multifactor Authentication (MFA) everywhere

“Next time,” we think as the mouse hovers over the skip button. But, who are we kidding? No, we won’t—there is no next time until the password gets leaked because of a data breach.

While there is no control over personal inboxes, making MFA mandatory at work will mitigate some of these lapses.

Be sceptical about everything

Train your people to question everything. Any links in an email and even that text from the bank. Check it, check it again and always err on the side of caution. The most common examples are emails sent from company X, the bank saying somebody has tried to access your account, and reset your password through the link. Don’t do this. Instead, change the password from the official website.

Update your software

I was 18 years old when I developed a common medical condition that affects a majority of the adult population worldwide. Your employees have it too.

It’s called software-update-blindness.

Make regular updates for your organisation’s devices mandatory. An upgraded device is a safer device.

Stop using the same password for everything

When I was a young, chocolate-obsessed child (as opposed to me now, an old, chocolate-obsessed child), I remember creating my first online password – to log into the Coco Pops website to play mini-games.

“How is my tiny brain going to remember a whole password?” “It has to be something I love dearly so I could never forget it.” Which began a period during which I used ‘Marsbar’ as my password for EVERYTHING, until, you guessed it, HACKED.

Thankfully, nobody ever tampered with my Coco Pops mini-game high scores. But, it quickly taught me the importance of having different passwords for every website.

No matter how intense a password is – a collection of nonsense numbers, letters and symbols – if the same one is used for every website, it will compromise security. More importantly, the mini-game high scores on your favourite cereal’s promotional website.

Expecting employees to be mindful of passwords is tough. It’s not their fault. When the average person must remember 20-40 passwords, there’s bound to be some recycling. Password managers are a fantastic tool to keep official passwords exclusive.

Building vaults around data to keep it secure is great but entirely in vain if your people offer hackers a guided tour of the facilities. Security starts with your people. Get them up to speed.

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