Online Is The New Frontline

Posted on Tuesday 12th February 2019
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There’s a war going on against cyber security. The really scary thing is that we are losing the battle against hackers and others alike, and most people are turning a blind eye to the most basic of online security.

Unfortunately, keeping our data safe online is usually the last thing on our mind. Maybe it’s because we are too trusting in people using our networks, or maybe it’s simply the fact that computer education was terrible ‘back in the day’. Whatever it is, I am making it my mission to get the cyber security message out there and I’m starting with businesses in Dorset. I am the Cyber Crime Prevention Specialist in the Cyber Crime team for Dorset Police. My job requires me to educate as many people as possible about cyber security. For the last eight years I’ve been investigating computer crime in the Digital Forensics Unit so I know this area well.

Since I joined the Cyber Crime team this summer I have had a flurry of local groups bite my arm off for cyber security advice which is excellent, but when it comes to businesses I am often told that you are doing fine.

The thing is, everyone is “doing fine” until they become the next victim of cyber crime. No-one thinks it will happen to them, but I can assure you, even some of the most computer savvy individuals have been victims of online crime.

The question is how important is your data to you? Business critical data, photos of your kids or family, they are all vulnerable online if your security is lacking. Could you continue in business or live with your partner if all your data got encrypted?

Every day actions that you wouldn’t give a second thought to could pose a risk to data security. Actions like employees using their own USBs in company networks could jeopardise data security. I’ve even seen a small coffee shop give their main WiFi router password to customers. This gave them access to everything, even their tills! Rest assured I did not hack their network, but I did let the owner know the risks they are leaving themselves open to. Criminal groups are all too often using situations like this to steal information in order to profit from the compromised data available to them.

So what can you do to protect yourself and your business?

Firstly, give your computer security a health check. Change passwords, update software, back up important data and learn about the risks of ransomware – doing these things could mitigate the risks.

Secondly, know your stuff. The best armour in our defence is knowledge. I’m offering a free cyber security awareness input for all businesses to help fight cyber crime in Dorset. Even if you don’t take me up on my offer, hopefully this blog has made you think about your own cyber security, whatever size your business is.

If you would like to know more about how to protect your data, then please email me at CyberCrimePrevention@dorset.pnn.police.uk.