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'Better to be safe than sorry' is more than just a cliché when it comes to cyber security - it's a prerequisite

Technology is advancing at a blistering pace and so are cyber criminals. People and businesses should take the necessary steps now to protect themselves before it's too late.

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“Cybersecurity is like locking your doors at night. You don’t do it because you expect someone to break in, but you want to prevent them from having easy access.”

Wise words from Paul Salem, cyber security advisor to President Obama as well as a host of blue chip organisations and public sector bodies in the US.

Why do we wear a seat belt? Because we expect to have an accident? Hardly. 

We have faith that we will be better protected in the unlikely event of an accident and know that wearing a seat belt reduces risk of serious injury or fatality. 

From public service campaign that began in the 1970s, wearing a seatbelt is now mandatory and whilst accidents have not eradicated completely, numbers in here are low relative to the volume of traffic in the province.

Locking up at night or wearing a seat belt are both preventative measures that we take seriously to protect what is important to us.

A bit like cyber security, unlike burglaries and accidents, you are guaranteed to be targeted by cyber criminals.

That’s of course if you haven’t been already.  A preventative approach to cyber security is worth so much more and has the potential to cost your business so much less.

As a business leader you will know the value of your business assets, but do you know how well protected those assets are?

Have you fully considered the potential impact and cost of a successful cyberattack to your business?

The cost of preventative measures are negligible by comparison. (You can ask some of our customers.) 

We advise businesses and organisations across the Island of Ireland to take preventative measures, regardless of their size or business type. 

Some of those measures are:

Use strong passwords: Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols to create strong passwords that are difficult to guess and avoid using the same password for multiple accounts.

Backup your data: Regularly back up your data to an external hard drive or a cloud-based service to ensure that you can recover your data in case of a cyber-attack or data breach.

Be cautious when clicking on links or downloading attachments: Be wary of emails or messages that ask you to click on a link or download an attachment, especially if they are from an unknown sender. 

Always verify the source before clicking on a link or downloading a file.

Educate yourself and others: Implement a cyber security training programme for all staff and help them keep up to date on the latest threats and best practices for cyber security and educate your family and colleagues on how to stay safe online.

Use two-factor authentication: Use two-factor authentication whenever possible to add an extra layer of protection to your accounts. This involves using a password and another form of verification, such as an access code sent by text or via authorising access via an app on your phone.

Keep your software up to date: Regularly update your operating system, applications, and antivirus software to ensure that you have the latest security patches.

Deploy a Security Operation Centre (SOC): A SOC is responsible for detecting, analysing and responding to security incidents in real time delivered through software, technology and (human) security analysts helping you maintain security policies and procedures.

There is so much more you can do to protect your data and your networks but ultimately only you know the true value of your business assets, some may be irreplaceable or priceless.

Some of the above measures are behavioural and some involve the implementation of technology and associated costs but without taking any kind of preventative measures your business remains exposed to cyber threat, the impact of which is unknown but can be expected to be severe.

Be safe rather than sorry.

Sean McDermott is CEO of LoughTec.

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