Byline: Andrew Mernin
ACOUNCIL computer blunder two years ago led to a serious breach of security for thousands of credit and debit cardholders on Tyneside.
In the aftermath of the event, which saw the details of 54,000 cardholders downloaded to an address traced to the Middle East, Newcastle City Council turned to a North East firm for help.
The council worked with Newcastle technology group Issertiv Hays to strengthen its data security defences, and now the company is offering its expertise to readers of The Journal.
The business services the UK, Middle East and Europe in risk reduction and breach mitigation through testing, training and educating on security weaknesses that hackers use to compromise computer systems.
Managing director Raza Sharif has laid out his 10 tips to keep you and your business safe from hackers who are using increasingly-sophisticated techniques to access your vital data.
"The key aspect is to perform risk assessments and simulate a hacker's mindset," says Mr Sharif. Here are his top tips to beat the hackers: 1. Ensure you only use licensed copies of software; illegal software always contains trojans and viruses hidden within its operating files.
2. Make sure your operating system is fully updated with service packs, patches and hot fixes (codes which fix bugs in the system).
3. Make sure that you also update your applications software such as Adobe, Flash and other specific software you use. When you purchase software, always ask the supplier how often you will receive updates. They may say "never" which should tell you that the company is not serious about securing its software.
4. Do not open attachments within your email program from unknown individuals or sources. This includes documents, PDF files, PowerPoints and images too. These can contain embedded hacking files which can open up your computer to a hacker when you open these file types.
5. Ensure you have a full and official copy of an anti-virus programme which regularly updates your system with the latest virus signatures. Use anti-spyware and check your computer regularly for spyware (used to collect information on a computer user) which in many cases contains hacking tools. This can be automated and scheduled to run at night when your computer is not in use.
6. Install a personal firewall programme on your computer. This will help to reduce the risk of the attacks and prevent most experimental hackers from getting into your computer. …