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CYBER security has become an issue that requires a special kind of attention.  In the past, cyber security was only left for IT personnel in their departments but now it’s a general issue, most of the tasks are digitised meaning we are exposed to different kinds of threats on a daily basis and it’s important to take the necessary precautions.

I have worked in the IT field for quite some time and I have seen first-hand on how devastating it is when a person loses information, get hacked or have their information exposed intentionally or through human errors. It is important to always take precautionary tips to protect yourself and your business.

A few years ago, a friend of mine went on a business trip abroad and whilst there, he met a business acquaintance who wanted to quickly use his laptop for something online.  Within three to five minutes, my friend was given back the laptop.

A few hours later, he discovered he had lost all his money after trying to buy something in a store using his card. Unfortunately, there was nothing left in his account. To cut the story short, he had to borrow some funds to return home.

Recently, an elderly man I know who runs a successful business was recently hacked into his phone and all his social media accounts without his knowledge. They almost started using his influence to swindle money from people using his social media handle.

Fortunately, he was tipped because someone had to call him to find out if he was the one sending those messages.  After being discovered, the perpetrators left pornographic images on his profile account to tarnish his image. He quickly reported this and with the help of a specialist they managed to reverse and reclaim his accounts back to the original owner.

There are many related stories but these two will suffice for now. You have no idea what a simple unknown app might do to you and your business.  Sometimes you get free app suggestions and you install them without enough knowledge about them and how they work.

Have you ever wondered why some people cover their laptop camera when not in use, others disable their microphone on the laptops when not in use for a reason. Sometimes, these apps are spies and offered for free and we download not knowing that someone might have sent it to you without knowing.

Sometimes, your employees might not have the necessary cyber knowledge to protect them and the company. Something as simple as clicking on the wrong link or downloading the wrong file could bring chaos especially if one works in a financial organisation or accounts department.

The other day, I was at ZICTA and saw how much work they are doing relating to cyber offences and I must say it is overwhelming. It all looks simple from a distance until you fall prey that’s when you realise that hell is real.

As we move towards digitisation, the number and type of devices requiring enhanced security measures increases too. Mobiles, tablets, Internet enabled devices all fall short in the traditional approach of securing network devices.

Before I give the tips I must state that there is a sensitisation programme going on by IT Action Edge which is offering an hour of free corporate training for companies of not less than 10 employees in cybercrime-related issues and how they can protect themselves and the  employees.  You can call this number to register +260950687204.

Employees are sometimes a loophole to the company. Most employees use their own smartphone, tablet, or laptop to access company information.  However, these devices present an increased security risk for business and IT departments must be on alert about protecting company information when it is accessed by an employee’s device.

Hackers go after smartphones as an entry point; from an infected smartphone, they can jump into a network and wage denial-of-service attacks or commit corporate surveillance. Seventy-seven percent of respondents to the 20th EY Global Information Security Survey said that a careless member of staff was the most likely source of a cyber-security threat.

How to protect your business from hacking

To secure your company’s sensitive information and protect your customers, take the following steps:-

  1. Put up a security contingency plan: Most businesses don’t have a formal security plan. It’s important to put up policies on how to manage and protect your data; you can work with the IT department to fulfil this.
  2. Educate Your Team: It’s very important to train staff members, even if they have basic knowledge in IT, they should learn and understand company security protocols, what to and what not to do when online at work and how to spot security risks such as phishing scams.
  3. Update systems: Most Out-dated software is often vulnerable to attacks, as a company, it is important to ensure that all your business software is up to date.
  4. Personal devices: Most of us like using personal devices for work and it is hard to avoid this but as a company you can use mobile device management services from a third party to manage communications.
  5. Free Wi-Fi: Educate your staff on how to use Wi-Fi networks; it’s not safe to access public networks. Use a virtual private network (VPN), which is a security layer that logs parties onto a secure network.
  6. Two step verification: As a company, it is important to use a two-step verification tactic for preventing someone from hacking into your business network. Meaning anyone who logs into your company email or bank account must enter a code which is sent to your mobile.
  7. Backup Your Data: In your security contingency plan, you should ensure that your data backup is done every after a stipulated timeframe of not more than one week, depending on how demanding your work is.
  8. Admin Pages: Admin pages should be hidden from search engines because they help hackers infiltrate your website and its data.
  • For comments and contributions or if you have a question or topic you would like us to cover in this column, email me on Text or WhatsApp +260977258265.

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