In business, more and more of what we do is online - from taking orders to updating accounts - but how secure are the systems you're using every day and what can you do to make them better?

Keep it up to date

It's quite simple really. Keep your software up to date. It may seem a bit of a pain downloading and installing software updates all the time but there is a reason they are released. Eventually somewhere somehow a hacker will find a hole in a piece of software and try to exploit it to do malicious things. Software manufacturers are fairly quick to jump on this and plug the hole but if you don't install your updates you are going to be left open to this vulnerability. The major one is obviously keeping your operating system up to date but remember to do the little ones too like Adobe Reader as they can be vulnerable too. Is your website up to date? WordPress is always a target so make sure you are keeping it up to date. It has a very simple automatic process and it will let you know when it needs an update.

Social Security

How many friends do you have on Facebook? Over 500? 1000+? Do you actually consider all of these as friends? Its quite surprising how open we are on our social media networks. We tag ourselves everywhere, we let people know what we are doing and when. Contact information is shared, we can see family members and what schools we went to. Now, if all of these people are not your close friends you are giving a lot of personal information away. Some of which could be used to answer security questions for password resets. What was your first school called for example. Look it up on Facebook! Be careful who you accept as friends as you never know their true intentions.

How secure are your passwords?

We all do it - We all have that one password we use everywhere. Maybe two, one for secure stuff like banking sites and another for Facebook and the likes. Are they secure though? Is it your dog's name with a bunch of numbers at the end? Unless you have about 8-12+ characters, numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters and the odd question mark here and there then the chances are they aren't very secure. As you have probably seen in the news lately there have been a few issues regarding security and big companies like eBay getting hacked and user databases stolen.

The thing is most sites store your password encrypted which is great. And this is a one-way encryption so even the company who encrypted your password can't ever know what it is. The only way to know is to match the encrypted version (or hash) against an encrypted version of what you type in the password box - if the two hashed versions match, you're logged in. The trouble is, hackers can run a program that tests millions of hashed variations against the password hashes they have stolen. If they find a match, they have your password and probably your email too from the same database they have stolen. Marvellous! Now they have your password for most sites, as if you are like most people you use the same email and password everywhere. But, if your password was something like J9hs&8237?s2sH82 then the chances of them finding a match is pretty slim. So, the more secure your password the better. If you have trouble remembering them you could use a service like LastPass which installs in your browser and logs you in securely and automatically.

Article by Stephen Downey of Climb Creative.

NBSL LogoThis article is brought to you by NBSL's North East Business Support Fund which funds the costs of business improvement projects such as website development, marketing strategies, external consultancy – click here to find out more

The North East Business Support Fund  has hundreds of registered providers offering a wide range of business support. NBSL has used its best efforts to post on this web site the most accurate and reliable information given to us by our providers but does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information. The thoughts and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and are licensed to NBSL for publication on this website.


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