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Expert tips to address your workplace cybersecurity worries

By thinking about security and asking “is what I am using secure?”, we may prompt a chain of ownership.

Photo: © AFP
Photo: © AFP

Since 2004, the President of the United States and Congress declared October to be Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and a similar event occurs in Europe. The purpose is designed to help individuals protect themselves online as threats to technology and confidential data become more commonplace.

This year’s theme is “See yourself in cyber”, with the month focused around four key behaviors: enabling multi-factor authentication, using strong passwords and a password manager, updating software and recognizing and reporting phishing.

Despite the high levels of publicity surrounding cybersecurity incidents and risks, finding the right information can be challenging. To aid readers, Digital Journal has reached out and received tips from several security experts at IT software and security company HelpSystems.

Two factor authentication

First in line is Donnie MacColl, Senior Director of Technical Support, who says: “We can all make everything we do more secure by taking affirmative actions and working in partnership with vendors and suppliers. This can be done by considering ourselves as end-users and customers of everything we use, whether that’s a physical shop, an online store, an app on our phone or a computer.”

MacColl continues:  Ask questions, for example, “does this app have 2FA?”, and, if not, move on and use the one that has. When in a store and asked for your email address or date of birth, ask “why?”, “what is it used for?”, “why do you need it?” and don’t share if not needed. By thinking about security and asking “is what I am using secure?”, we may prompt a chain of ownership. Now go ahead, grab a coffee and take timeout to change all your passwords to be unique and difficult to guess, and make sure all your software is on the latest version to reduce the chance of attack. You’ve got this, and if you are not sure of the best way to be secure, just ask!”

Partner with your vendors

Second is Chris Spargen, Sr. Manager, Solutions Engineering. Spargen states: “Setting a strong example is a way to collectively raise the bar on cybersecurity for your organization. Championing updated policies by being an early adopter, praising early adoption when you see it, and spearheading the latest security updates for the software solutions in your realm of influence will lead to a more secure organizational posture. Look for opportunities to partner with your vendors, testing new versions and helping them find any weaknesses that may exist before they reach the mainstream market.”

Learn form your mistakes

The third expert is Tyler Reguly, Sr. Manager, Security R&D. Reguly says that it is important to learn from mistakes, noting: “It doesn’t matter if you accidentally download malware, have someone access one of your accounts, or click on a phishing link, eventually everyone makes a mistake. For some people, having one of those horrible incidents happen is the only way they realize, “Hey, it can happen to me.” For others, however, it is a source of embarrassment, and they shy away from publicly discussing it or thinking about it. When we treat these incidents like a source of shame, we deny others the opportunity to learn from our experiences. The easiest way to “See Yourself in Cyber” is to see how others are impacted. Whether it is your personal or professional life, seeing someone you know impacted will do more to reinforce the importance of vigilance than see dozens of corporate breaches in the news. It is time to remove the stigma around being a victim of cybercrime and open the door so that everyone of us can ‘See Yourself in Cyber.’”

Be smart, think smart

The fourth and final expert is John Grancarich, EVP, Strategy. Grancarich states: “Remember that at the end of the day, the smarter you can make a system to detect and prevent a threat the safer you and your organization will be. While phishing attacks are always going to evolve like any threat vector, the more often we can spend that one brief moment clicking ‘Report Phish’ makes the entire system smarter not just for you but for everyone else as well. A smarter system is a safer system.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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