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According to Symantec’s 2017 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report, globally in 2017 victims lost a total of $172 billion due to cybercrimes. Out of that $172 billion, American consumers lost $19.4 billion alone. In reading through the reports, it seems like overconfidence is the top issue when it comes to consumers protecting themselves against cybercriminals.

In the age of thumb print and facial recognition, it can be easy to forget the basics when it comes to protecting ourselves. Simple steps such as not sharing passwords, not using duplicate passwords across accounts, changing passwords periodically or writing passwords down on paper are still being over looked. Consumers still fail at making sure they have an anti-virus installed on their devices, along with keeping that anti-virus up to date.  Suspicious email scams are also still very much alive and well.  Consumers still open emails from unknown senders, and download files from suspicious emails.  These are all very basic steps that in 2018, should be common knowledge amongst technology users, but we tend to forget because we over-confidently think that “nothing will happen to me”.

Cybercrimes not only affect consumers on a personal level, but if you run a business “in the cloud”, they can affect the core of your business as well. Business owners really need to consider the security risks involved in cloud computing. The New York Times released an article discussing two major flaws inside nearly all of the world’s computers, this includes the computers used by your cloud based storage system. One flaw called Meltdown, allows hackers to use their rented cloud space to obtain other consumers information within that same cloud system. Having your data in the cloud also puts a large target on your back, as hackers will target the areas where they can do the most damage, like cloud based systems.  Keeping your data local, on a local server where you can monitor the maintenance and performance of your server can help alleviate the security issues cloud computing entails.  While cloud computing is user friendly with its ease of access from anywhere around the world, there are still secure options on a local server like a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that allows you to access your data as if you were sitting at your desk.

With all the advances in ways hackers are accessing data, how can consumers protect themselves?

  • Following the basic best practices for passwords, anti-virus and email is a good place to start.
  • Change your generic username and password that was issued with your router, and use that router to password to protect your Wi-Fi.
  • If you’re a business, never allow guest Wi-Fi to have access to the same Wi-Fi your employees use. Always make sure they are separate as a tech-savvy guest can use this as a way to reach your internal systems. Don’t leave guest Wi-Fi un-password protected either.
  • There are hardware options such as a Firewall you can add to your network infrastructure. A firewall creates a barrier between your network, and the outside network.  With this barrier, you can create rules for which type of traffic/activity is allowed to enter your network.
  • Using a local server for data storage, and having an off-site back up at a local data center can help remove some of the data vulnerability that comes with cloud computing.
  • Keep programs and operating systems updated. We know, it’s a pain and some updates can take 5-10 minutes to complete, but these updates can contain valuable patches against security threats.

There are many ways to protect yourself, but having an IT professional examine your infrastructure for vulnerabilities is ultimately the best course of action for higher level protection. If you’re interested in a FREE infrastructure vulnerability review, contact us today.  We will not only help you find weak areas in your infrastructure, but we provide recommendations on how to strengthen your network and can help you put those recommendations in place.  Contact us to learn more.