The WannaCry ransomware attack was only last May and an article today in the Independent reports that it expects scams to rocket during 2018. So, what’s to do?
Jeremy Clarkson claims that he doesn’t know how the internal combustion engine works – he just drives cars. He doesn’t even claim to be a good driver and I am not sure he’s telling the whole truth about that; but I get his point. I kind of feel the same way about the internet. I don’t really have the foggiest on how it works, it just does (or doesn’t) and that’s good enough for me. But this is clearly no excuse to having some form data accident just as it would be for Mr Clarkson to crash without a seatbelt on.
Early last year, during the winter half-term holiday with my family. I read an article in the Times about how poor some people’s passwords were and how easy they could be to hack using a password cracking software. I was guilty of many of the common mistakes outlined in the article. Classic mistakes for passwords include:
- Names of pets, past or present.
- Using parts of addresses, past or present.
- Names of people you know, past or present.
- Using only one word and adding up case, numbers before or after symbols etc. All this stuff is very easy to crack.
Not only did I have a problem, but on investigating my team, my whole office did as well. That is something I’m not proud of and as Financial Advisor, we should set ourselves to the highest of standards. Since that time I have become almost evangelical about cyber security. I’ve not only done several presentations to other groups of financial advice firms, but I also like to help our clients to be cyber safe as well.
As always, there are no guarantees, but I would start with two actions now:
- Firstly google ‘how long should my password be?’ I am not going to tell you what we’ve done here in this Ifamax Insight, but I would say that reading a few of those articles randomly will give you a process in mind of what you probably need to do to protect your devices. The good news is, that if you make it tough enough, you shouldn’t need to change it again.
- The next issue is that every website you use should also have a different password. I’d strongly suggest that you get a Password Manager. If you don’t yet know what these are, again google it. There are a host of providers and many articles on the subject. Again, for security reasons I won’t tell you which one we use, but I can tell you that it’s brilliant and there is no more endless form fills or paper trail for any password.
Next, go and read www.cyberaware.gov.uk
Around 2 million online fraud incidents were reported in 2017, according to new data from the Public Accounts Committee. And with only 20 per cent of crimes actually reported, even this stark figure is just the tip of the iceberg.