The modern Internet has become the literal fibre that connects businesses and society. What’s more, this inter-dependence is increasingly on the rise. With the exponential growth of Internet users to 3.8 billion, we have seen our lives drastically improve. With this, however, comes an increased sense of responsibility. Gartner estimates more than 8.4 billion “Things” are on the internet today, up more than 30% from just one year ago.

Responsibility is yours

2017 sadly yielded various cyber attacks resulting in massive losses to companies. Private documents and personal data ended up online for the world to access. As a result, people have become more aware about how they spend our time online. The fact is, it is no longer an entirely safe space.  You can no longer implicitly trust that your personal details will not fall into the wrong hands.  This does not mean that we should stay clear of using useful tools, however. So don’t give up on online shopping, social media and your new best friend Alexa just yet. It does mean, though, that we need to educate ourselves about how to protect our information.

In 2018 businesses, too, will have to bear more responsibility. Awareness of cyber security risk factors is critical; threats such as ransomware will not be a thing of the past anytime soon. In addition, they will have to keep up with ever-changing technology to keep their spot in their relevant industry. Digital transformation and the way that companies approach it can determine their lifespan. Furthermore, this requires that companies make sure that their staff are clued up.  Changes are needed and support to enable them will be required, whether it be the introduction of a better security system for online platforms through fingerprint logins or new software that allows employees to access their data and work remotely via the cloud.

This year will also see the incorporation of analytics into even more AI devices, online platforms and ultimately business decisions. Data remains the core of every business. If companies do not have the resources to facilitate better security, they need to outsource this work. The catastrophic consequences of losing data are not something that you can ignore.

A plan of action for 2018

Kick-start your year’s ICT responsibility and consider performing the following actions if you haven’t done so already.

For starters, back up your important files. Use a dedicated cloud backup system (not just cloud storage). You can also make a copy of them on a separate physical drive for added safety. Added to this is learning to use more of your devices in a manner that keeps all your vital information backed up.

Next up, keep your software on all of your devices updated. Ensure that you have the latest patches and program versions. This will help prevent hackers from accessing your data or devices. While you’re at it, don’t neglect the needs of your device as well. Hardware also has requirements, so keep it clean, cool and serviced if necessary.

Finally, and we can’t stress this one enough, change your passwords. The start of a new year is as good a time as any to make use of better passwords. Rid yourself of that one weak password that you use for multiple accounts. Set strong passwords separately for each account. Having one account compromised is bad enough. Now picture a situation where someone has unauthorised access to your email, banking and online retail accounts. That sort of risk isn’t worth not taking a few minutes to increase your password security.

Additional tips for online activities

  • Never use an ecommerce shop if it is not HTTPS verified. You should also always ensure it has a secure payment gateway.
  • If you do not see that the site is secure in your browser, it means any information you enter is not encrypted. This puts you at risk of losing money and exposing your personal data.
  • Remember to use an Incognito/Private Browsing window when signing into any of your personal accounts. This is especially important on a computer that is not your own.
  • Choose passwords that contain letters, numbers, capitals, lower case letters and symbols. Yes, it makes life harder if you need to remember so many difficult passwords, but it is worth the effort. If you feel that you cannot keep up with them all, use a third-party tool that keeps your passwords safe.
  • Keep your software on all of your devices updated to ensure that you have the patches. This will help you to prevent hackers from accessing your data.
  • Stay informed of ICT news so that you know whether the latest application or AI gadget has a security breach.

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