Security in 2016

It’s that time again where we reach for resolutions and predict what 2016 has in store. When sifting through forecasting top tens, something has stood out: the rise of the hacker. A galling thought we’ll agree, but not unrealistic. We’ve all seen such high profile cases as the leak at Sony, and of course the controversial platform, Ashley Madison, losing sensitive customer data. The Sony incident in particular publicized an unfamiliar kind of strike: state sponsored ‘cyberespionage’.

Indeed it’s not only been a case of large scale, corporate attacks. Examples of baby monitors and car operating systems being hijacked have brought the phenomenon closer to home than ever before. Literally so with the advance of smart homes.

While we’re not ones for hysteria, these violations of privacy indicate that as hackers become more sophisticated, we need to find ways of keeping up; something particularly pertinent for organizations dealing with personal data, such as schools or councils. As IT Pro Portal put it, “Those who continue to ignore the underlying structural integrity of their software will once again make headlines”. So if you don’t fancy making the press, instead make security a priority in 2016.

Doing this is easier than you think, especially with… you guessed it, the guys over at Google. Like all companies they’re constantly under attack from hackers, however they have a team staffed with hundreds of experts so can confidently say that they take security seriously. When using Google for Work your sessions automatically encrypt as material travels between your browser and their data centers. Add this to the fact that with 14 of those data centers, no information is kept in one place. The proverbial icing on the cake comes with a focus on machine learning: reacting to viruses like a body would. Most of the major players in Cloud – including Google – are now seeing this as their front-line of defense.

So while this is all well and good, the most commonly reported affronts are in fact attacks on profiles, with hackers trying to steal login details through phishing. It seems so simple but this is what trips users up again and again: your PASSWORD. To stay safe you simply have to follow best practices, so remember the golden rules: make it longer than eight characters, create a strong mix of letters, numbers and symbols, do not reuse it across other channels and change it regularly. Perhaps most important though is the use of 2-step verification with passwords. This offers that essential second layer of support, with the requirement of a code sent via text, voice call or the mobile app – to keep prying eyes out.

Ultimately if we have to offer one piece of advice this year, it’s go Google. The easy answer to a safer system.

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