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Cyber Hygiene – How safe are you?

By Stephen Bonner, Partner, Information Protection

Senior executives can be a lucrative target for corporate, and sometimes state-sponsored, espionage. While this may seem like the stuff of James Bond, the reality is that cyber espionage is commonplace and often highly effective.

Reputation matters in any line of business but as a senior executive, you are often seen as an embodiment of your firm. This can also make you the target of organised crime and of internet activism, or ’hacktivism’.

There is no absolute security but getting the basics right can help protect you, your family and your employers. This blog post provides some simple tips which can help you be cyber secure.

How to protect yourself

You can be attacked at home, at work and on the move so here are some practical, yet basic, tips on cyber hygiene:

  • Computer – Make sure your computer is protected. An attacker can directly exploit software security vulnerabilities on your computer, or (often more successfully) persuade you to do it for them.
  • Security holes – Update your software regularly. Computer programmers make mistakes and can introduce errors into software, so called ’bugs‘. Sometimes, these bugs can allow an attacker to breach the security of a computer connected to the Internet.
  • Firewall – Even a well-patched system can still be compromised by a determined attacker. To help provide additional protection, it makes sense to install a firewall. A firewall is designed to counter attacks against your computer by blocking suspect network traffic.Anti-virus software – The final step in protecting your computer is installing a good anti-virus product. These products are designed to detect and block the malicious software attacker’s attempts to compromise your computer’s security.
  • Phishing – Everyone uses email, but it’s not a very secure way of communicating. Attackers can forge the sender’s email address to pretend to be one of your colleagues or friends. They could also masquerade as a company offering you an important service – anything to entice you into opening the email. The email can often come with attachments or links. Opening these may allow an attacker to exploit vulnerabilities in your computer and to take over control.
  • Browsing the web – It’s worth being careful when you browse the web from your computer. Attackers will go to great lengths to ensure your browsing is directed towards a compromised website. Be careful in browsing the internet, and if a page seems wrong, test where the links will take you. Your anti-virus software will catch many of these attacks, but it is no substitute for care online.
  • Wi-fi – Making sure the wi-fi network you’re connecting to is secure and trusted.  Even at home, you should secure your router to stop people eavesdropping or taking a free ride on your network.
  • Removable Media – A final piece of advice on computers. Be careful of removable media – including CDs, DVDs and memory sticks. While these are an important way of transferring information, they can also be used to break into your computer. If you aren’t certain of the pedigree of removable media, then don’t load it onto your computer.

For information on cyber security, please visit: www.kpmg.com/uk/cyber

 

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