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Cyber Security Awareness Month In Review: It’s a Lifestyle

Ahhh, it’s the last day in the month of October and also the last day of National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2018 (NCSAM).

Observed annually in the United States it was started by the National Cyber Security Division (NCSD) within the Department of Homeland Security and the non-profit National Cyber Security Alliance. The month is really geared towards raising awareness about the importance of cybersecurity.

Cyber Security is the ability to protect internet-connected (cyber) systems, (hardware & software), networks and data from cyber attacks. Effective cyber security reduces the risk of cyber attacks, and protects organisations and individuals from the unauthorized exploitation of systems, networks, technologies and our online data.

Cyber Security has taken a front seat for the Caribbean especially for Jamaica. Their efforts to boost cyber security have been given international recognition. Jamaica has been ranked number one in the Caribbean on the Global Cybersecurity Index according to a report produced by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Believe me, we know.... it’s a bit more than you bargained to read about, but before you close this and move on, remember that this affects you too.

“It won’t happen to me.” While no one wants to believe it can happen to them, getting hacked can happen to ANYONE. Hackers do what they do for a variety of reasons - for financial gain, for the challenge of it, or even out of boredom - meaning every business, regardless of size or industry, is susceptible.

If you've been investing heavily in your content marketing strategy, you want to do everything possible to protect your site against these kinds of attacks. A well-planned hack can destroy all your content marketing efforts overnight by:

  • Stealing your customers' private data

  • Stealing your company's private data (e.g. internal communications)

  • Deleting or disabling your site

  • Gaining control of your website or computer

  • Serving malicious software

  • Redirecting visitors to other sites

1. Eight Characters Are Not Enough

Use long, complex passwords for your website login. To protect against hackers guessing your login information, have a unique username and long, random password. Use a strong mix of characters, and don’t use the same password for multiple sites. Don’t share your password with others, don’t write it down, and definitely don’t write it on a post-it note attached to your monitor. Stop laughing, people still do this. Make sure you've changed the default username 'admin' to something more difficult to identify; leaving it as is gives hackers one less piece of data to crack.

2. Lock It Up

NEVER leave your unlocked devices unattended. If you need to leave your computer, phone, or tablet for any length of time—no matter how short—lock it up so no one can use it while you’re gone. If you keep sensitive information on a flash drive or external hard drive, make sure to lock it up as well.

3. Practice Safe Clicking

Always be careful when clicking on attachments or links in email. If it’s unexpected or suspicious for any reason, don’t click on it. Double check the URL of the website the link takes you to: bad actors will often take advantage of spelling mistakes to direct you to a harmful domain. Think you can spot a phony website? Try this Phishing Quiz. With 90% of hackers cover their tracks by using encryption. Hackers are also wising up to the use of encryption techniques and are now more effectively covering their tracks — making it much more difficult to arrest them. The most effective method to combat cyber attacks is by using the right preventative methods.

4. Beware Of Browsing

Sensitive browsing, such as banking or shopping, should only be done on a device that belongs to you, on a network that you trust. Whether it’s a friend’s phone, a public computer, or a cafe’s free WiFi—your data could be copied or stolen.

5. Back It Up

Back up your data regularly, and make sure your anti-virus software is always up to date. If you're regularly adding new content to your site, this can equate to hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars.

Make sure you regularly back up your entire site - both your database and files. You may also want to consider saving your new content in several locations, not just on your server. Having duplicate copies stored in Dropbox or on your computer may seem like overkill....until you wake up one morning to find months' worth of content gone.

6. Physical Cyber Safety

Be conscientious of what you plug in to your computer. Malware can be spread through infected flash drives, external hard drives, and even smartphones. According to data from Juniper Research, the average cost of a data breach will exceed $150 million by 2020 — and by 2019, cyber crime will cost businesses over $2 trillion — a four-fold increase from 2015.

7. Use SSL or TLS Certificates to Encrypt Sensitive Information

An SSL certificate (Secure Socket Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization's details. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and the https protocol and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser. They will ensure that information passed between a user's computer and your server is encrypted, and therefore secure. It will also ensure that the data your customers enter actually ends up at your server - and not that of a hacker.

Google Chrome has begun to show websites as “Not Secure” if they do not provide a HTTPS connection since summer of 2018. If your website doesn’t have a SSL/TLS layer and has an unsecured http:// layer third parties can view and take the information that passes between the two sites. This can lead to data breaches if information like usernames, passwords, or credit card numbers pass from your customer’s browser to your site. If you’re on a budget you can use a free encryption certification site.


Finally, we advocate for all our clients to monitor and stay on top of their online accounts. Don’t for one minute believe that your site is too small or insignificant to be targeted by hackers. Be sure to monitor your accounts for any suspicious activity. If you see something unfamiliar, you should definitely check it out. Follow it up as it could be a sign that you’ve been compromised.

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