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Cyber Basics | The Essentials for Improved Cybersecurity

Jude McCorry

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Cyber basics
Jude McCorry, Chair of the CyberScotland Partnership, explores growing security risks and how businesses can fine tune their cyber basics.

National restrictions may be receding, but many of the effects of the global pandemic will live on, including the huge expansion and acceptance of remote working.

Delivering this ability to operate and communicate, all while abiding by physical restrictions, has undoubtedly required agile and robust technology to keep projects on track while working remotely.

However, despite us being 16 months into this new way of working, we are seeing a steady increase in the number of businesses impacted by some level of security challenge.

As business owners and leaders have been quick to grasp, forward thinking and building agility into business planning (and in turn IT systems) is a worthwhile exercise.

Why? Well, sometimes the unexpected does indeed happen. However, when it comes to the prevention of cyberattacks, it’s vital everyone in a business has some level of savvy when it comes to cyber basics.

In this respect, leaders need to wake up to the realisation that, as more staff use home broadband, online portals, and digital devices each day outside the realm of the office, it is no longer the sole responsibility of the IT department to keep the business’s data and network safe. All employees have a role in protecting a business from a cybersecurity perspective.

Recent research by the UK Government found that businesses (84%) and charities (80%) said Covid-19 made no change to the importance they place on cybersecurity.

This concerns me on several levels, and not just because the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) reported a rise in cyber incidents during the pandemic. This is a stark reminder that when it comes to cybersecurity, the best place to start is with the basics.

Protect the gateway to your data

Password protection is an aspect that can be easily underestimated. Data from Google shows that 52% of people use the same passwords for multiple accounts, and a staggering 13% use the same password for all of their accounts, which reinforces that educating people about the folly of doing this remains a priority.

Businesses need to stress to their teams the importance of maintaining a secure password policy and advise on avoiding suspicious links and downloads.

For files or documents that require password access, then it is worth considering the use of a password manager with restrictions, to ensure only those who need to access this information can do so. This will limit the opportunity of sensitive information ending up in the wrong hands.

Update your software

The few minutes it takes to install a software or application update could save you lots of time in the long run by reducing your risk of a cyber attack. Software updates released by developers often include improvements to security bugs and patches for cybersecurity systems, in turn improving the protection of your data.

Installing updates promptly (rather than ignoring the pop-ups) makes it more difficult for cybercriminals to exploit your computer systems.

Educate yourself and your team

Training is an important tool in your armoury when combating cyber crime. NCSC-created training programmes like ‘Exercise in a Box’ provide a practical, entry level introduction for businesses to test their cyber processes.

These sessions, helping businesses train and practise for cyber attacks, are provided free of charge by organisations like the Scottish Business Resilience Centre. Senior members of the team can also benefit from training, with sessions in the market targeted at the board.


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Mastering the basics of cyber security is vital in this day and age. With increased threat levels present alongside ongoing remote working, the need for action on cyber basics has never been higher.

Our Advice and Guidance section on the CyberScotland website provides simple steps to protect yourself and your organisation from cybersecurity risks and ensures you have the basics in place.

Available online here: https://www.cyberscotland.com/advice-and-guidance/

Jude McCorry, Head of Business Development, the Data Lab

Jude McCorry

CEO, Scottish Business Resilience Centre

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