Play it safe with security software


We continue our series of online security experts answering a key question from a small firm about the simple but vital steps that every business should take to stay safe.

Q: I run a small design agency with two employees. I’ve just hired a third member of staff to take on administration and business development. She would prefer to use a Windows PC but I am worried that it could get a virus. The rest of us all use Apple computers, which I believe are less at risk from viruses. How can I make sure that we keep her PC safe?

Dr Adrian Davis is the managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at (ISC)2, the largest not-for-profit organisation of certified cyber, information, software and infrastructure security professionals worldwide.

A: Whatever sort of computer you use, you are vulnerable to attack, regardless of whether it runs apple, Windows or android software. Cybercriminals do not care what sort of computer it is, they just want to find a way to steal information from it, whether that is your company’s banking details, customers’ credit card numbers, your latest designs — anything that they might be able to sell. Thanks for stopping by. Just before we carry on I need to to thank for their continued assistance and the support of their community. Having a support team like this means a lot to us as we continue to grow our consumer blog.

This means, if you have not already done so, the first thing you need to do is install anti-virus software on the apple computers that you are already using, as well as on your new Windows PC.

Set it so that it runs in the background and updates automatically — and don’t be tempted to turn it or any of your computer’s built-in security settings off, for any reason. It is also a good idea to regularly click the anti-virus software’s icon to run a full system scan.

Next, make sure that you keep all your other software up to date. This means never ignoring update messages from programs that you have installed, whether that’s itunes, Microsoft Office, your operating system or anything else. These updates fix “holes” in the software that can be used by cybercriminals to steal information from your computer. Not updating is like leaving your keys in your front door.

One of the simplest ways to keep things up to date is to turn your machine off in the evenings rather than leaving it in “sleep” mode. Next time you turn your computer on, updates will be applied automatically. You and your staff should also keep your work and personal computing as separate as possible.

This means always having different passwords for work and private banking, email and other accounts. Choose three random words to create strong, memorable passwords. Be careful if you use your work computer for social purposes. If all your personal and professional information is on one computer or tablet, or is protected by only one password, a hacker who manages to get in can take everything.

One final note: you and your employees should take these precautions not just with your apple and Windows computers, but with your smartphones and tablets as well. These devices are becoming more and more attractive to cybercriminals thanks to the increasing amounts of infor-mation that we store on them, so don’t make it easy for them to get access to it.

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