Business News Australia reports that 91% of Australian and NZ SME’s have been the victim of cyber-attacks in the last 2 years – 91%!!!
That’s a staggering and very scary statistic. In fact, I know many of you reading this have been victims yourself because I’ve counselled you when it’s happened.
A common type of attack is Ransomware. Ransomware is where a machine takes over your machine and systematically locks down your system, encrypting your data and then you are given an ultimatum of pay a ransom or lose your data forever. This is unfortunately quite common and devastating. Imagine losing all children’s baby photos in a split second never to be seen again? Beware, there have been many instances of people paying the ransom and then the hackers increase their ransom demands (as you’ve already shown you are willing and able to pay) or never give your data back even if you do pay. Remember the people behind these attacks are criminals – they do not play fairly or ethically because they are criminals.
My top 7 things you can do NOW to protect yourself from cybercrime are –
- If you haven’t got anti-virus and anti-malware on your computers and devices invest in it now. This is THE very basic and minimum protection – think of it like have a lock on your front door – it’s not infallible but it’s a deterrent and slows them down.
- Turn on 2 factor authentication (2FA) on every single site it’s available e.g. myGovID, Gmail, online banking, accounting systems such as Xero, MYOB, QBO. Some sites/systems have made 2FA mandatory for good reason.
- Invest in a password manager such as Lastpass that can work across all your devices. Password managers take a bit of getting used to but once you’ve worked them out, they are a Godsend – especially if your memory is fading like mine.
- Do NOT use the same password on multiple sites and especially on sites that have your financial or personal information.
- Wherever possible, passwords should be a combination of upper and lower case, numbers and special characters such as %$?}. The more digits/characters the exponentially harder your password is to crack. Best practice recommends using a phrase that no-one would guess which includes spaces as this makes it extremely difficult to crack in a brute force attack.
- Do not open emails or click on links that look/feel suspicious or you are not expecting. I often receive emails saying I have an invoice from XYZ company that I never deal with or an email saying I have a voicemail and click here. Do not click. Better to delete immediately than risk your precious data.
- Backup, backup, backup. Backup to a reputable cloud hosted service regularly or use a service that synchronizes your devices to a cloud service so you can never lose everything.
Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of if someone tries to hack you, it’s a matter of when. Protect your data like you protect your family.
Cybercrime be alert, not alarmed. Stay safe.