The misconceptions and realities of cybersecurity


Date: 29 October 2020

A masked burglar breaks into a house

In this day and age, computers are a fact of life. They have brought us incalculable benefits, but they have also presented a few problems. Amongst the most egregious of these are the various types of malware and hacking tools, which unscrupulous third parties use to gain access to sensitive data and systems.

To combat this threat, we need cybersecurity. But hacking and cybersecurity are topics fraught with misunderstanding. Let's see if we can identify some of the more pernicious myths and see if we can dispel them.

Attackers only go after big corporations

If you ask the average person to name a cyber attack, they might talk about how celebrities had their iPhones hacked, or how the PlayStation network was targeted, or how the NHS fell victim to ransomware. Naturally, the attacks we've heard of are the big ones. This is a consequence of media coverage, not objective reality. According to research by the Federation for Small Businesses, ten thousand attacks a day are aimed at small businesses in the UK. One in five UK small businesses claim to have been targeted in the past two years. It could easily happen to your business.

For this reason, it's worth investing in specialised cyber insurance at the start up stages of your business setup. This will protect you against online threats, while providing the advice you need to lessen the risk.

Antivirus software is flawless

You've installed an antivirus. Great! But that doesn't mean you have nothing to worry about. Antivirus is only as effective as the definitions it's stocked with. If an attack comes from a new, as yet unidentified source, then it'll be powerless to stop it. As such, antivirus software doesn't guarantee your security.

Your password is great

Most of us use poor passwords. A recent poll by Google found out that more than half of users reuse the same passwords again and again across multiple sites. In 2019, Microsoft announced that forty-four million accounts were using compromised passwords. For maximum security, pass phrases are better than passwords. Better yet is a password manager – encrypted software that invents passwords for you and keeps them in a special keychain.

Attacks are obvious

We all like to think we're able to spot scams a mile away and it's only other people who aren't smart enough to spot them. But scamming people out of their money is a billion-dollar industry, and the people behind it have a whole myriad of tools at their disposal. They might pose as services you're already subscribed to, or even as your friends on social media. You can expect phishing to get more sophisticated as time goes on, and as deep-learning AI is brought to bear on our psychological weak spots.

My data is safe with company x

You might believe certain big companies, like Facebook, Microsoft and Google, can be trusted with your data. After all, they have many clever people working for them who undoubtedly know what they're doing. But the reality is even the biggest companies can suffer breaches, and your data could be exposed.

The risk cannot be dispensed with entirely, no matter how cutting-edge your cybersecurity might be. For one thing, the threat is constantly evolving; for another, there might be contingencies you haven't foreseen. Creating a clear risk assessment and following security advice will go a long way in securing a business.

Copyright 2020. Article was made possible by site supporter Marsh Commercial

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