5 new year resolutions to keep your data safe

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Tuesday January 21, 2014 at 10:00am
At the start of a new year it’s a time to look ahead, to be optimistic about the future and maybe to do some planning. Whilst it might not naturally be top of your list, it’s also a really good opportunity to think about the issues of data security in your business. With the information commissioner spotting breaches daily, key customers and tender documents requiring proof of data security then many businesses are choosing to work towards ISO27001 compliance. You may not feel that a full assessment and certification are necessary, however by making some very simple changes to your IT use and practices you can make your business and your data more secure, mitigate some common security problems and put yourself in a stronger position to satisfy the security demands of your customers. Here are some suggested actions you can take now.

Update your web browser

Taking care of your web browser(s) should be among your highest priority, this is your window to the web and is now the main ‘threat vector’. Running the latest version of your browser is one way to deal with web based attacks - whether that browser is Google Chrome, Internet Explorer (IE) or Mozilla Firefox for example. These browsers in their latest incarnations all allow automatic updates, so make sure auto updates are turned on.

Update or remove plugins

Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash and Oracle’s Java are all examples of software that is prone to security vulnerabilities. They are constantly been ‘patched’ by the Adobe and Oracle. A recent example of a Java ‘exploit’ was seen at ads.yahoo.com, where malicious advertisements were served on the site. Older versions of Java allowed the malware to run automatically where as running the latest version of Java would have required user interaction, the malware would have required the user to click the ad.

Windows updates

The second Tuesday of every month is Microsoft's Patch Tuesday, when it releases bug fixes for Windows and other Microsoft programs. If your still using Windows XP (released 2001) operating system, enjoy security updates and support while you can as January’s updates will be some of the last. Support ends (this includes virus definitions for security essentials) on April 8, leaving its users to themselves when it comes to security updates.

If you are using any current Microsoft Operating System, then make sure auto updates are enabled for critical updates and review recommended/optional updates every second Tuesday of the month.

Data backup

Backups are essential if you value the data/information that resides on your devices (laptops/tablets/phones/servers etc). Mechanical hard drives or SSD (solid state drives) all have a MTF (mean time to failure), in simple terms they don't last forever! Never rely on one backup destination, backup to the ‘cloud’ and use a local backup i.e: external hard drive or USB flash drive. Also make sure you use encryption to ‘scramble’ the information if you need to protect the confidentially of the information.

Antivirus (AV)

Always use antivirus/anti malware software on your devices where available. Don’t forget Android mobile devices or Apple Mac’s, they are not immune to attack. Free AV software is available for these devices. Installing AV software is not enough, make sure you schedule a full system scan at least once a week and review logs often to see if any ‘malicious’ items have been discovered.

Marcus Allen
Parker Management Consultants

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