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01-Week “#beCyberSmart”

01-Week “#beCyberSmart”

The goal of this theme is to emphasize that cybersecurity isn’t only a shared responsibility. It’s an individual responsibility. If everyone does their part – implementing stronger security practices, raising community awareness, educating vulnerable audiences or training employees, our interconnected world will be safer and more secure for everyone.

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As our lives have become increasingly dependent on technology, almost all personal and business data is kept on internet-connected platforms and devices, which can become a gold mine for bad actors. The first full week of Cybersecurity Awareness Month will highlight best security practices and focus on general cyber hygiene to keep your information safe

Own your own role in cybersecurity by starting with the basics

Step Ahead - Cyber Security Controls Create strong passwords and use multi-factor authentication

Step Ahead - Cyber Security Remediation Backup your data

Step Ahead - Cyber Security Assessments Update your software

Then take a bold step forward and do something different – look at ways in which you could build a simple cybersecurity framework based on industry standards. This way you can build a strong foundation to be cyber secure and Do Your Part #BeCyberSmart!

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Be sure to participate in our 'Be Cyber Smart week 1 webinar hosted by Step Ahead' and presented by TechData/Google on using productivity suite securely - Google Workspace the real time collaborative productivity suite - one sure way to be cyber smart!

Cyber Security Basics

At a time when we are more connected than ever, being “cyber smart” is most important. This year has already seen more than a fair share of attacks and breaches, including the SolarWinds and Kaseya breaches as well as high-profile attacks on the Colonial Pipeline and other critical infrastructure. Cyber attacks have become more sophisticated with new bad actors cropping up each day. They are well organized, collaborate, and share their attack vectors There are several steps that we can take on a daily basis to mitigate risks and stay one step ahead of malefactors.

Here are a few quick tips:

Use strong passphrases/password manager

This may seem obvious, but too often a strong passphrase/password manager is overlooked. The increased internet usage during the pandemic has certainly contributed to more bad actors prowling for accounts to attack. Complex, and unique passwords are a good way to stop your account from being hacked. Track and remember your password by using a password manager. Check out with Step Ahead how you can use a password manager on a low cost subscription model. Things you can do practically until then

USB Flash Drive

Create a password file locally on a USB flash drive and carry it with you at all times. The password file can be an Excel or Word document. Store all passwords in it.

Passphrases

Create passphrases rather than passwords. Passphrases are at least 12 characters in length and the phrase is something you can remember, mix it up with alphanumeric characters and special characters.

Change Passwords

Set up reminders in your calendar schedule to change passwords once in 3 months.

A good password manager could manage these tasks for you. But if you are disciplined and take some extra time to do this, then the above 3 tasks will work.

Tip: Store passwords in a USB drive. Even if your laptop is compromised, your passwords are safe. If you lose your USB drive, then, nothing much can be done. But whoever gets hold of it will not know to whom it belongs and where it applies. Even if somebody tries to get into your account with a compromised USB password device, the MFA will protect you.

Enable MFA

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds that necessary second check to verify your identity when logging in to one of your accounts. By requiring multiple methods of authentication, your account is further protected from being compromised, even if a bad actor hijacks your password. In this way, MFAs make it more difficult for password cracking tools to enable attackers to break into accounts.

Updating your Software

When a device prompts that it’s time to update the software, it may be tempting to simply click postpone, and ignore the message. However, having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system on devices is one of the best defenses against online threats. So, don’t wait - update.

While this is good, if you are a windows user, you will find that over a period of time, your device becomes very slow, especially when you apply every update Microsoft recommends. Please note that these software updates are general in nature and apply to all versions and product releases which may not be necessary. It depends on what you have enabled in your operating system. Therefore, it makes sense to use an asset manager to keep a tab on your device. Please note that asset managers are a required component of your IT system for compliance. Using an asset manager you can keep a tab on what patches to update, comply with your organization’s security requirements for all devices and ensure that devices in your organization are patched up to the same level and ensure all critical security patches are installed. Check out with Step Ahead on how you could do this most effectively and affordably using a subscription model.

Insight!

- Source from Gartner, Inc.

Worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 18.4% in 2021 to total $304.9 billion, up from $257.5 billion in 2020, according to Gartner, Inc.

The pandemic validated cloud’s value proposition, said Sid Nag, research vice president at Gartner.

The ability to use on-demand, scalable cloud models to achieve cost efficiency and business continuity is providing the impetus for organizations to rapidly accelerate their digital business transformation plans. The increased use of public cloud services has reinforced cloud adoption to be the ‘new normal,’ now more than ever.”

The COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations to quickly focus on three priorities: preserve cash and optimize IT costs, support and secure a remote workforce, and ensure resiliency,” said Mr. Nag.

Investing in cloud became a convenient means to address all three of these needs.

In fact, recent Gartner survey data indicates that almost 70% of organizations using cloud services today plan to increase their cloud spending in the wake of the disruption caused by COVID-19. As enterprises increase investments in mobility, collaboration, and other remote working technologies and infrastructure, Gartner expects growth in public cloud to be sustained through 2024. Let’s accept the inevitable – all of us are using cloud computing in one way or another and that usage is going to grow. And in the cloud, it is always the shared responsibility no matter what cloud based application you use – Microsoft Office, Google Workspace or CRM, etc.

Customer Responsibilities

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Cloud Service provider Responsibilities

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Backup your data

Backing up your data now becomes a critical part of your business without which you run the risk of losing your business or if a breach occurs and the bad actors have your customer’s data, you are not only looking at ransomware price, but potential lawsuits; this extends beyond losing your business or going bankrupt! Have a backup and restore policy and include tools for BCM (Backup and Continuity Management).

Do your research : Common sense is a crucial part of maintaining good online hygiene, and an intuitive step to stay safe online is to do some research before downloading anything new you are downloading to your device, such as apps. Before downloading any new learning app on your device, make sure that it’s a by checking who created the app, what the user reviews say, and if there are any articles published online about the app’s privacy and security features.

Check your settings : CBe diligent to double check your privacy and security settings, and be aware who can access your documents. This extends from Google docs, to Zoom calls, and beyond. For meetings on Zoom, for example, create passwords so only those invited to the session can attend, and restrict who can share their screen or files with the rest of the attendees.

Being cyber smart and maintaining stellar online hygiene is the best way to protect yourself and others from cyber attacks. No single tip is foolproof, but taken together they can make a real difference for taking control of your online presence. Following these tips is also easy, and free. By taking preventive measures and making a habit of practicing online safety, you can decrease your odds of being hacked exponentially – and prevent lost time and money, as well as annoyance.

Cybersecurity Awareness Month Oct 21

Be part of our Digital Presence, so that we could give you more practical tips at no cost to you.