How do I protect myself from cyber threats?

Recently, I have been reading reports on the NCSC CiSP platform on the threats posed by various hacking groups; some possibly state actor groups.  At the end of these reports (not publicly available, but very similar reports have appeared in mainstream media) the NCSC provides advice on how to mitigate the risk posed by these groups. 

Some of the mitigation advice is aimed at IT professionals. For example, details of what to look for to determine if you have been hacked or not.  The majority of the advice provided by NCSC is applicable to organisations of any size.  Many smaller organisations believe that they are “too small” to be of interest to hacking groups. This is simply not the case. Information is valuable no matter where it comes from. The hacking tools used by criminal gangs are highly automated and do not favour one firm over another. 

Advice for all 

It, therefore, makes sense for even small organisations to protect themselves in the same manner as huge corporations.   Here is a summary of the advice provided by the NCSC to help protect the firms fron these threats: 

  • Use two factor authentication to protect user credentials. NCSC advice on this topic. 
  • Manage the use of office suite macros. Consider preventing them from running automatically. A lot of malware is embedded in productivity suite macros. NCSC advice on this topic. 
  • Use up to date antivirus software.  
  • Use spam filters and other tools to protect against phishing emails. NCSC advice on this topic. 
  • Use security monitoring tools. NCSC advice on this topic. * 
  • Update your system and application software.  
  • Restrict staff access to files and data. Provide staff with access to only what they need. NCSC advice on limiting the impact of malware. 
  • Use the tools built into web browsers to warn staff about malicious or fake web sites. 

* This is probably the only piece of technical advice that is potentially beyond the ability of smaller firms to make use of. However, there are many IT companies can provide security event monitoring as a service. Search on-line for “siem as a service”. 

As you can see there is no magic to protecting an organisation. Following a few straight forward steps will provide any organisation with strong cyber defenses. 

ICAEW cyber hub is here: 

NCSC advice for small businesses is here. 

NCSC staff training is here.