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Cyber Security for small business: How passwords are like undies


I get that it is a bit unusual for an accountant to talk about Cyber Security for small business – but if you own a mobile phone connected to the internet, what I learned this week at XeroCon is a must read.

After careful consideration of everything I learned over the past few days at XeroCon, I believe the most valuable small business conversation was from Jaya Baloo – an internationally renowned cyber security expert. This is because, I believe, there is a an urban myth that internet security is something that only large business owners need to worry about.

But on a day to day basis, I believe, our online security is the one thing we don’t truly understand nor do we exercise the same level of caution that it requires.

Baloo provided context to the issue of cyber security for small business and practical steps to improve your online security. Fundamentally, Baloo was interested in how ‘dumb’ devices were being made smart and how combined with the introduction of 5G networks the playing field for small business security was being compromised.

Why Cyber Security for small business matters

In a world where even the least tech savvy person has a ‘smart’ phone connected to the internet, we are increasingly connected 24/7 with the internet.

Even our ‘dumb’ devices we buy have connections to the internet via WIFI, and Baloo implores that we need to stop thinking about our vehicles being cars – but instead, we need to begin thinking that our car is in fact a computer with four wheels.

As consumers, we need to begin thinking about the quality of our hardware and the product designer’s stance on security and updates to their technology.

Computers connected to the internet can get hacked.

In 2017, robotic vacuum cleaners were hacked to turn them into a spy both in the houses of owners and also to look through the home WIFI connections to search out email addresses and passwords in order to ransom the owners for money.

This can have a huge consequence for small business owners with increasing numbers of business owners having their data compromised, and ransom wear being more predominant.

How to find our if your email address been compromised

Your first step towards online security is to identify whether or not your email has been compromised.

Your email can be compromised in so many ways – even innocently. Web browsing and usernames on even seemingly legitimate and websites that you’d expect to be highly secure such as Adobe, LinkedIn, myFitnessPal or Canva – can cause your email address to be compromised.

Baloo recommends regularly checking your email address for being compromised using the secure website ;–have i been pwned? and if your email address has been compromised, to change all your passwords.

Passwords are like Undies

Baloo gave a really good analogy about passwords, stating “Passwords are like undies. You should change them often. Don’t leave them lying around. And definitely don’t share them.

These three rules for password protection is imperative in our increasingly connected world.

In addition, when it comes to your passwords, length does matter, and preferably, words would be interposed with numbers and special keys such as # or ! and you’d not use other providers to ‘log in’ using their password. The longer the password, the better.

Do you want to learn more about Cyber Security for small business?

Baloo has plenty of videos online for you to research more about cybersecurity, and how you can improve your Small Business security. Below is her recent TED talk:

Make sure you sign up for our newsletter, we’ll continue to write posts about cyber security for small business and what you can do to improve your online presence over the coming weeks.

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