Running an IT services company can be challenging at times. We all try to stay on top of the latest trends and news in our field. I guess this is true for any number of businesses out there, however the pace of change in the digital world is mind blowing.
Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, however having this knowledge about what is actually going on with the Internet and cyber security sometimes makes me cringe and wish for the good old days of computing only ten short years ago. Our clients don’t want to know all the details about security; they just want to be assured that their systems are safe. I have a hard time telling them that there is no such thing anymore.
Nobody in the IT field should tell a client that their systems are totally safe; if they do I would run away from them. Politicians constantly tell their voters what they want to hear. People like to think that they are safe and will dismiss reality simply because it is hard to face the facts sometimes.
So where am I going with this? Simply put, if you want your computer and network to be more secure, you have to endure a bit of inconvenience. There… I said it.
In our world of instant everything, we are giving up our personal data, our client data, and our overall security. Doing things the way we always did it is not good enough in the 21st century. Ask anybody in cyber security and they will say the same thing. You are going to hear a lot more about this in the coming year on the news. Just ask the owners of Chrysler vehicles who purchased a vehicle with all sorts of “Tech” aimed at convenience if they feel safe knowing that hackers can control your vehicle as you drive down the highway.
So what can be done about this? Add some security to your systems on multiple levels. Drop your account to “user” instead of “Administrator.” Make sure your AV software is up to date. Make sure you install Adobe, Java and Microsoft patches on a regular basis. Make sure you have a good firewall. Don’t click on anything in an email if you don’t really trust it or did not ask for it. Make use of a good password manager like Last Pass and change your passwords to something better than “fluffy123.” Never use the same password over and over.
The best way to protect yourself and your business is to shrink your attack surface. Think of it this way.. We all know about the game of Corn Hole where you toss a bean bag into a board with a hole in it. If the bean bag is a hacker or “bad guy” and you have a huge hole three feet wide, it is very easy for them to win.
Shrink your attack surface and reduce the size of your Corn Hole (pun intended). Tossing a bean bag at a very small hole at a distance is hard; you have to really work at it. It may not be impossible but hopefully the bad guys will move on to easier targets because you took the time to build some defenses. It may be inconvenient, but compared to the consequence of having your identity stolen, or all your client records stolen it is a small price to pay. Convenience comes at a price.
I try to practice what I preach, so our newsletter will no longer contain links to articles that we find interesting. Clicking on links or attachments in emails, on Facebook or other social media is a bad idea and a habit we all need to break. If you really feel compelled to click a link, roll over it first and examine the line that appears in the lower left hand corner of your browser window. Consider if that destination is something you really want to expose your computer to.