The 5 Tiny Steps To Bulletproof Information Security

Information security is arguably the most important trend at the forefront of the technology movement.  It doesn’t matter how slick your app is, how fast the widget runs and what business the software helps you win if it is undermined by lacklustre information security.

As the old adage goes, it takes a lifetime to build your reputation and a second to destroy it.  Information security is a key skill for the digital economy.

Need a juicy stat to convince you?

“We’re seeing between 40,000 to 100,000 new samples of malware emerge daily, and in most of those cases the motivation behind the malware is financial,”

Jeff Horne, Director of Threat Research at Webroot.

Information Security Trends

Sophos, a leading vendor of mac and windows security software have put together a PDF report, read it here for free: Cyber Security Threats 2014

Scary I know.  A bit techy sounding?  Yes.

Don’t worry you can breath easy, as these five super simple habits will bulletproof your data security in no time at all!  We believe on fully managed security solutions and server monitoring, but at its core – good information security is mostly just a case of doing the simple things often.


#1 – Update, Patch, Upgrade. Religiously.

The number one cause of information security weaknesses is the lack of tiny chores like patching.  The Windows and Mac operating systems let you automatically download OS updates, so there is no reason not to do this.  For goodness sake – turn this setting on and let it update your computer!  Information security specialists all around the world will ask you one simple question immediately – are you regularly updating your desktop software?  Information security is as much subject to the Pareto principle as any other area of life – 80% of information security flaws will disappear when 20% of your efforts are focussed on the simple task of updating and patching software.

On this theme – if you are still using Windows XP.  Stop.  Right now.

If you didn’t hear, Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP in April 2014.  For more, read our post on Windows XP End of Life.

This means that the cleverist of hackers are going to redouble their efforts to track down ignorant Windows XP users and exploit the well catalogued information security flaws.  If you need to plan your Windows migration, you should speak with a Windows migration consultant or you can use the free Windows data transfer tool LapLink tool co-developed by Microsoft.

#2 – Create a Kick Ass Passwords

Look here at how relaxed some people are with their passwords.  Although this data is 4 years old at time of writing, attitudes haven’t changed.

Are you guilty of these silly mistakes?

  1. Using one password on multiple sites and devices?
  2. Using stupid words like password in your passwords?
  3. Using the name of the service in the password for that service?
  4. Using yours or a loved one’s birthday in your passwords?

If you just answered yes, then you need to change those passwords.  Quickly!

We don’t need to reinvent the wheel here.  Instead take my word for it that these two articles are good starting places on how to generate strong passwords that you can remember.

Google – Secure Your Passwords 

Business Insider – How to Create Strong Passwords

Here is a really interesting infographic on strong passwords!

Password Managers

If you really do struggle to remember anything, at least use a password manager.

Members of our team use tools like LastPass or Key Pass.

There are some very smart people out there working on password solutions.  This is an area we tip for big growth in 2014 and the next couple of years.


#3 – Scan Stuff!

As a rule of thumb – I scan my Macbook Pro about once per week using the free Sophos app.  I let it scan everything on my computer and go through it’s list diligently.  Our preferred free piece of software for Windows security is Comodo.

There are tens of high quality anti-virus and anti-spam email solutions out there.  There really is no excuse for not using one.


#4 – Ignore More People

I know, this probably sounds awfully harsh, but I ignore emails that contain file attachments from people I do not know.

Ignoring people is 1 of five steps to better information security

Ignore People & Rogue Emails – Image Credit: Flickr/ Peter

I may miss out on some things because of this – but my information security is more important normally than these attachments!  This is without a doubt one of the biggest mistakes we have seen some of our clients make, leading to Trojan horses and other nasty issues.

I virtually never download attachments that contain a .xls attachment and never download an attachment with a filetype I do not recognise.

Our internal motto is that with IT security, it is the things you do not know that will get you!


#5 – Get Expert Information Security Help

If you feel out of depth with information security, it is essential to be proactive to find the expert help you need.

If you would like to speak with a cyber security consultant, contact us today to arrange an IT security audit or free onsite consultation.


About the author

Alistair helps clients implement technology solutions that make them more successful and much happier to go to work.