Cybersecurity and how to protect yourself from cybercrime
Beware of tinder swindlers (and other online conning scumbags)
Have you seen the ‘Tinder Swindler?’
It’s a shocking documentary that focusses on a group of women who were the victims of a conman they met on Tinder. Having collectively been conned out of millions of dollars, they came together in an attempt to hunt him down.
Simon Leviev, the alleged criminal, conned his victims out of more than $10 million.
At the time, it seemed like a very unique case. But, cybercrime, in all its forms, is much more common than we think.
When you think of crime, you probably think of theft, kidnapping, and even murder. But, I recently came to find out that 52% of all UK crime now happens online.
And it’s not about to get better. In fact, experts expect cybercrime damages to reach $10.5 trillion per year by 2025.
This can only mean one thing for business owners. We need to prioritise having a cybersecurity strategy. Or at least put a few simple things in place to mitigate against it.
Because without a cyber security strategy, you and your business cannot defend itself from cyber threats, leaving you vulnerable to malicious fraudsters, who could identify your business as an easy target.
I was shocked by the statistics above (still am…) So, with the help of a few friends, I decided to dig into how businesses can protect themselves against cybercrime.
5 tips to avoid cybercrime
1. Set up two-factor authentication for everything
I know, I know…
It’s a bit of a pain to have two-factor authentication, and especially when you’re in a hurry. You just want to log in as fast as possible and get your work done, right?
Just as the name suggests, two factor authentication relies on a user providing a password as the first factor and a second, different factor such as a security question on a second device.
For small businesses, it helps you to stay protected against unsolicited access to your data. It’s a form of cybersecurity.
Something as simple as two-factor authentication can protect a business from hacked data, stolen files, and malware attacks.
It might take an extra minute of your time to verify yourself through two-factor authentication, but in the grand scheme of things it’s a REALLY small price to pay.
2. Take care of your passwords
Ask around! Many of us have had the same passwords for decades. The passwords are either the same across different softwares, or just slightly remixed.
And while it’s great for memory, it’s also risky!
If a criminal gets access to one of your accounts, he suddenly has access to everything.
The site will help you to check if your email or phone has been in a data breech. If it has, the next step is to change that password, and be sure to enable two-factor authentication this time.
Additionally, as part of cybersecurity, be wary of where you store your passwords. The most common place people store passwords is Contacts or notes of their email, which is the first place a cybercriminal will look for them.
Rolf Woodward recommends a password manager like 1Password, which has a business product that is great for helping staff with this. It also locks all these sensitive passwords up in an encrypted vault.
3. Turn off preview text messages on your phone
It’s pretty convenient to have preview text messages and notifications. When you can access info at a glance, you save a lot of time and become more efficient.
But here’s the thing…
This convenience can land you in trouble.
Imagine that you’re in the middle of a private text message conversation with a friend about personal matters or with a colleague regarding internal business information. You put your phone down to go to the loo or something. Any information sent to your phone while not in your possession is going to be accessible to anyone within view of it. That’s potentially pretty dodgy.
The solution? By hiding the details on your lock screen, you can still know when you have a message, but you need to wait until the phone is back in your hand to view.
4. Be careful with public WI-FI
In the last couple of months, I’ve heard quite a number of cybercrime cases stemming from public WI-FI.
There’s a lady whose bank account was wiped out, and another who could suddenly not access her mobile money.
The biggest threat to free Wi-Fi security is the ability for the hacker to position himself between you and the connection point. So instead of talking directly with the hotspot, you’re sending your information to the hacker, who then relays it on.
And to make it worse, even if you connect via HTTPS to a legitimate website over a legitimate network, cybercriminals could still snoop on your browsing habits.
So the next time you’re at a restaurant or even office and want to connect to the WI-FI, think twice about it.
And lastly, make sure that when you’re out in public and not using it, your WI-FI remains off at all times.
5. Security Awareness Training
Cybercrime can and does completely destroy businesses, and it can take a couple of years to recover from it. So, it does no harm in spending some time and a little extra money to protect your data.
In fact, it’s a great investment!
These trainings and programmes address the cybersecurity mistakes that employees may make when using email, the web and in the physical world such as tailgating or improper document disposal.
They can prevent data breach and phishing attacks.
The National Cyber-Resilience Centre Group (NCRCG) is a police-led, not for profit Cyber Resilience Centre in every region to help businesses better protect themselves against cyber threats.
They offer flexible membership packages to suit the needs of all businesses with Core Membership being free of charge. You can learn more about them here.
6. Have a proper backup
Before you think of protecting your data, you have to first back it up.
I’m curious, how do you back up your data? Most of us rely solely on a cloud backup, right?
Rolf Woodward from Woodward IT says that most people these days think just because their data is in the cloud that it is safe. This is not true and Google, Microsoft and Apple do not do backups of your data, so it is important to back all this data up.
You can check out Woodward IT, which offers a Cloud to Cloud backup of Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace for our clients to cover this risk.
Robert Creech of VCI systems also offers an independent G-suite cloud backup. It costs only £3 + VAT per licensed Google user per month. It can back up your Google workplace, Google Drive sync and backup, Gmail backup, Google calendar, and Google contacts backup.
In summary, cybercrime isn’t about to get better. If anything, the stats show that it’s here to stay. And there will probably be better technology to do it as time goes on.
The best thing you can do is to protect yourself, your business, and your data through cybersecurity mechanisms.
Our top 5 simple tips to protect yourself from cyber attacks are:
- Set up two-factor authentication
- Don’t use the same password for everything
- Turn off preview text messages
- Be careful with public WI-FI
- Security awareness training
- Have a proper back up
We’re always up for a conversation. Get in touch with us for any questions you might have.
Onwards and upwards my friends,