Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2019 Series – Part 1

Owning Your Digital Presence

October marks the 16th annual Cybersecurity Awareness Month, a combined effort between government and industry experts to raise awareness about cybersecurity and give people the tools and information they need to stay safe online.

The sophistication of modern cyber criminals means they constitute a huge threat, particularly against small and midsize businesses. Attacks on SMBs are growing, and organizations that find themselves the victim of a cyberattack can face drastic consequences.

It has never been more important to understand the importance of cybersecurity and the measures and precautions that must be undertaken by everyone within a company to ensure its best defense.

As part of our effort to engage in Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we’ll be publishing a three-part series where you can learn about the latest trends and best practices on digital security.

Social Media

At the start of the 2010s, 43% of Americans used at least one social media platform. Today, that number is 72% and continues to rise—albeit at a slower pace than previous years.

People spend more time than ever using social networking sites, and with every status update, new account, or “like”, you’re sharing a little more information about yourself with the outside world.

With the average user in the US spending 74 minutes a day on social media, that’s a lot of information being collected. There’s no better time than Cybersecurity Awareness Month to understand your control over your personal data on social platforms.

Own Your Social Media Presence

  • Be aware of your privacy settings: Assess your settings on social media platforms so that they fit with what you’re comfortable with. For example, who you do and don’t want to see your posts and who you’re visible by search to.
  • Be careful who you’re friends with: You’re probably familiar with spam bots sending you friends requests. Watch out; these can be designed to spread malicious software or to gain access to your account.
  • Be wary of what you share: Once data is on the internet, it is extremely hard for it to be removed—even if you delete a post, it will still be stored and used as data. Always take care posting, particularly if it is something sensitive like personal information.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The number of devices that coexist in a given working environment has changed dramatically. Last year, 23 billion connected devices operated within digital ecosystems—by 2025, it is estimated to shoot up to 75 billion.

With businesses recognizing the huge potential of implementing IoT tech into their operations, the prevalence of these devices will continue to increase. This also extends to everyday object used away from the office: lights; home security; refrigerators—you’re never too far away from an IoT device.

These connected devices are bringing more convenience into our lives, but also more cybersecurity vulnerabilities which need to be considered.

Own Your IoT Devices

  • Safeguard your network connections: Have protections in place for your network when internet devices are connected. Secure your network and have a plan in place and a proper policy (for businesses) for ensuring that connections to and from devices are watertight.
  • Have a strong password protocol: If your devices operate with a default password like “admin”, change it to something unique. If left unchanged, these types of easy-to-guess logins can be very simple to break into by malicious actors.
  • What are your apps doing? As standard, many apps have default settings which grant them access to a wide array of data-gathering protocols, unbeknownst to you. This also extends to apps that run as background processes, using energy and functioning without your knowledge.

Online Privacy

Privacy is one of the hottest topics for Cybersecurity Awareness Month. 95% of Americans are concerned about businesses collecting and selling their personal information. Internet users are increasingly wary of the integrity their digital footprints—just 32% of US and UK consumers believe online privacy is possible at all.

Large enterprises have attempted to assuage the fears of consumers by implementing new practices for the way they can interact with their personal data, but users still feel both worried about their privacy and unable to do much about it.

It’s important to understand how to manage their privacy online and how their information is used.

Own Your Privacy

  • Targeted advertising: This is a relatively simple concept; virtually every social media platform makes a substantial amount of their revenue from targeted advertising—they track data from your activity, build a profile of your likes and dislikes, and use that information to show you ads they think you’ll like. Targeted ads can make a lot of people uncomfortable, but what people don’t know is that almost all major platforms allow an option to turn this method of advertising off.
  • Keep up to date: Make sure your software is up to date and running the latest version. Turn on automatic updates or check regularly to make sure your device is operating as best it can. Use an antivirus software and set it to run regular scans to keep your privacy and data safeguarded from breaches.

Traveling

Mobile devices are vital companions to any employee needing to work on the move. Laptops, tablets, and phones are useful tools for conducting work away from the office. This necessitates a growing need for new technologies for travelers to take lean on—nearly two thirds of them rely on mobile apps during trips for their work.

Venturing away from an enterprise-secured office can pose threats of its own. WiFi networks in publics places, like airports, cafes, and restaurants can make for easy targets for hackers—adequate precautions should be taken when using public networks.

Own Your Devices on the Road

  • Disable auto-connect: Many mobile devices have a feature that connects you to available networks just by being within range. This might be useful in the office or at home, but can pose a threat if you’re unknowingly connected to an unsecure network. Be sure to manually connect instead.
  • Lock it automatically: Almost all devices come as standard with security settings that allow you to lock the device using a PIN or unique ID like a fingerprint. Use these measures on all devices and enable automatic locking in case you are away from the device for a period of time and forget to lock it manually.
  • Watch your Bluetooth: The last few years have seen a number of exploits used by hackers utilizing Bluetooth connection vulnerabilities to gain access to devices. Some of these exploits don’t even require a connection or even the victim’s device to be visible. Many users have their Bluetooth on at all times without realizing it—in light of the various security lapses that have taken place with the technology, it might be a good idea to hit that off slider when you’re out and about.

Impact Networking’s Managed Security program provides vital cybersecurity protection for clients, keeping their minds at ease in the knowledge that their IT infrastructure is being monitored and maintained by our security experts.

We’ve vetted 100s of vendors to ensure that our program utilizes best-in-class solutions for our clients. In today’s landscape, a comprehensive cybersecurity program has never been more important. Learn more about Impact’s offering here.