Top Cyber Risks and Tips for SME’s

11th February 2017
data image

Your businesses most valuable asset is your computers information. Think about it, if you fail to protect this vital information, it can leave a significant impact on your reputation of your business, a drop in overall business value and do you even want to know about the resulting fines?


Passwords go back to ancient times, it was used by the Roman military to ensure guard watch was secure and a pass ‘code’ was used to control the passing of guards from one quartet to another. In today’s world, it is utilised on a wide variety of computing services. So when you connect, a magic word must be provided to safeguard your entry.

In the unfortunate circumstance that someone was to steal or guess your password, this means they would then have access to your files, your e-mail, your funds, confidential information, and much more. They can tamper with sensitive data, send threatening or offensive emails in your name, or subscribe to unwanted services for which you’d have to pay. For these reasons alone, the security of your passwords is one of the most important cornerstones of information security. It can’t be ignored or taken lightly.

Cyber hackers use a sophisticated software that can run a script to target your password details. Preventing this is easy;

  • Make sure it can’t be easily guessed
  • Change it immediately if you think someone might know it
  • Change it regularly
  • Do not write it down
  • Never send your password in an email or over the phone
  • Do not have Same password for multiple device

A good password can be: a line of a poem or the line of a song, join two unrelated words with a punctuation character and replace vowels with numbers. Storing your password is tricky, perhaps use an encrypted file deep in your database with specific authorised permission to users.


Malware is a generic term, short for “malicious software.” Malware refers to software programs intended to harm or do other unwanted actions on a computer system. Destructive malware will utilise popular communication tools to spread, including worms sent through email and instant messages, Trojan horses dropped from web sites, and virus-infected files downloaded from peer-to-peer connections. Malware will also seek to exploit existing weaknesses on systems making their entry quiet and easy.

A Trojan is an extremely dangerous program that appears legitimate, but performs some illicit activity when it is run. It may be used to locate password information or make the system more vulnerable to future entry or simply destroy programs or data on the hard disk. It stays in the computer doing its damage or allowing somebody from a remote site to take control of the computer. Trojans often sneak in attached to a free game or other utility.

An example of a dangerous malware is CryptoLocker. This ransomware trojan horse came to life in 2015. This malware encrypts your data and displays a message which states that your private information can be decrypted for a sum of money in a limited time. Though CryptoLocker can be removed by various security solutions, there isn’t any way yet to decrypt the locked files, meaning that your files are lost if you don’t pay the ransom!

The signs to look for malware attacks include:

  • Advertising pop-ups that appear every few seconds
  • Extra toolbars in your browser that won’t go away
  • Browser going to sites you didn’t tell it to go to
  • Unexplained system slowdowns
  • Sudden increase in computer crashes

Although there are other reasons why your system might slow down or frequently crash, if you’re noticing these obvious indications of malware, your system may have been compromised. Here are some quick tips, to follow to prevent these malicious attacks.

  • Only open email attachments that come from a trusted source and that are expected
  • Delete all unwanted messages without opening
  • Do not click on Web links sent by someone you do not know
  • If a person on your contact list is sending strange messages, files, or web site links, terminate your session
  • Scan all files with an Internet Security solution before transferring them to your system
  • Only transfer files from a well-known source
  • Keep security patches up to date
  • Use the likes of to protect against malware

The dept. of Communication, Energy and Natural Resources have extensive support for the public and businesses regarding IT security. MakeITSecure is backed by many leading IT and Tech organisation in Ireland, such as BT, O2, Microsoft and Symantec.

In next week’s blog we will look at Safe and Secure PC Disposal and Smartphone Security.

References: Roman Empire, Heimdal Security, Make IT Secure