On the 1st August we once again celebrate World Wide Web Day to highlight the incredible impact the internet has had on our lives. It has revolutionised the way we communicate, do business, and access information, but it has also brought significant dangers, particularly in the area of cyber security.
The advantages of the internet
The internet’s connectivity has enabled us to communicate, collaborate and share ideas across the world virtually instantaneously. With just a few clicks we can access an incredible amount of information allowing both individuals and businesses to stay up to date. The transformation in how we do business could not have been imagined a few decades ago, with the rise of e-commerce allowing companies to reach far greater customer bases.
Social media has meant that businesses are often more accessible to customers and can be used in an innovative way to market products and services. And the education and learning opportunities that are available to everyone provide a real benefit to communities across the world.
The ‘Wild West’ frontier’
Yet it isn’t all good news, despite all the benefits there are also risks. We have heard a lot in recent years about ‘fake news’, the spread of misinformation, and the negative impact that social media can have on individuals. There is also the threat from cybercriminals, who look to exploit vulnerabilities, to steal data, and to hold businesses and organisations to ransom. And this threat is only getting worse as attacks become more sophisticated, and criminal gangs adopt cybercrime as their business model. Couple this with the concerns many have around the collection of personal data and how this can be misused, and it is no surprise that the internet is sometimes described as the new ‘wild west frontier’.
What can a business or charity do to stay safe?
There are a number of proactive measures that you can take to improve your cyber security, and they don’t need to be complicated and technical.
1. Train your employees and executives on things like recognising phishing emails and using strong passwords. There is a famous quote by Sir Francis Bacon back in 1597 where he said, ‘knowledge itself is power’, this is definitely true when it comes to protecting yourself from cybercrime.
2. Make sure you implement a policy of strong passwords, and back this up with two-factor authentication. Use three random words as recommended by the National Cyber Security Centre.
3. Make sure you patch, i.e. update your software, including operating systems and apps, as these will often contain fixes to security vulnerabilities. Also make sure you’ve activated your anti-virus and firewalls.
4. Back up your data, and keep your backup separate from your computer and develop a robust data recovery plan to ensure business continuity in case of a cyber incident.
5. Protect your devices not only by using strong passwords but also make sure lost devices can be remotely tracked, locked or wiped. Keep them up to date and don’t connect to unknown Wi-Fi spots.
There is also support available from the National Cyber Security Centre's Active Cyber Defence Services which can help enhance your digital security. These include:
· Early Warning
· Exercise in a Box
· Mail Check
· Web Check
Therefore, I’d encourage you to use World Wide Web Day as the perfect occasion to not just celebrate the wonders of the internet but to recognise the potential dangers it presents and to take those simple steps to protect yourself.
This includes joining the Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales, taking advantage of our free membership, our cyber security services, and also the active cyber defense services provided by the National Cyber Security Centre.
Businesses and charities can start to take those first steps to ensure a safer digital environment whilst continuing to harness the power of the internet for growth and innovation.