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Getting back to the security basics

Getting back to the security basics

Too often the security conversation happens around network security, and focuses on tools and technologies used by network admins to keep their businesses' networks safe. While paying attention to the corporate network is vital, too often the basics are forgotten by individuals, and these basics can make all the difference.

So says Simon Campbell-Young, CEO of Phoenix Distribution. "There are some very basic techniques that can be used for keeping your PC, identity and network safe. The very first is locking your machine when you leave your desk for any length of time, such as a meeting or lunch break. Many individuals forget to do this, as they do not perceive their fellow employees as a threat.  Unfortunately, while this is usually true, it is not always the case. When we leave our machine unattended, it can be accessed by anyone walking past."

He says particularly in industries that handle sensitive information, such as healthcare providers or financial services institutions, machines should never be able to be accessed by anyone other than the intended employee. "These industries are highly regulated, and have heavy compliance and privacy laws governing them. Leaving your PC unguarded could have very serious consequences, including huge fines being levied against the business, loss of reputation, legal consequences or job loss."

Campbell-Young says over and above stolen data, there have been cases whereby a malicious insider has spread malware through a co-worker's machine, making it seem as though that individual had spread the virus. "Getting into the routine of locking your machine whenever you leave it for more than minute or two, is just sensible practice. Many have the option of auto lock when the screen is inactive for a certain period. It takes a few seconds to set up, and could save a lot of trouble in the long run."

Another tip, he says, is to use antivirus and firewall software and ensure that the anti-malware solution carries out updates automatically and with the shortest possible intervals. "In addition, scan your system at regular intervals, and ensure your operating system and all applications are regularly updated. Too many attacks only succeed because attackers exploit vulnerabilities in out-of-date or unlatched software."

"Take a look at each application and its security settings. While standard settings are often adequate, this isn't always so. Look for the best possible compromise between security and operability. In addition, ensure that software that is out of date or not in use anymore is uninstalled. Without you being aware of it, the critical security loopholes that exist in outdated software on your system can be easily exploited."

Finally, he says when deleting old data, particularly data that is confidential or sensitive, leave nothing remaining in the operating system resources. "Too many times files that you think have been permanently deleted can be recreated with a minimal effort. Make sure that all these sorts of files are permanently deleted from the system."

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