Friday, 13 January 2012

5 Easy Steps to Make a Hacker’s Life Difficult

Following are five steps which will help in preventing security breaches. While no one can guarantee preventing breaches, these steps will help make life difficult for hackers:

1. Optimised Passwords – We wrote a blog about poor passwords a while ago. There was a time when the password “password” used to be a fail-safe way of deceiving hackers. Although most people now know how poor the password “password” is, there are still quite a few who would use some equally obvious choices of passwords. For instance, using your name, and your date of birth – such information is now easily accessible via social media. 

Don’t use passwords which can easily be guessed. Mix characters in the words. For example, use exclamation mark instead of the number 1, ampersand sign for number 8 etc.

Another problem with passwords is that people tend to become lax after making one. Even if your password is difficult to crack, it is good practice to keep changing it every now and then. People who do not change passwords and use the same on multiple sites are more likely to suffer a breach.

2. Efficient Anti-virus, and rightly set Firewall – These are one of the most basic things which are wrong in a user’s operating system – if you don’t have anti-virus software running in your environment, you’re in trouble. A completely up-to-date anti malware, anti-virus software needs to be up and running constantly. Where possible, deploy a hardware firewall and ensure that it isn’t allowing unnecessary traffic to penetrate your systems.

3. Patching Machines – Operating Systems and other software companies release patches and updates to the software. While some updates add new features, others improve the security flaws that may have existed beforehand. Therefore, it is important to keep the latest versions in check.

4. Securing Data – Do you carry your sensitive data in a USB around with you? If so, watch out. Unprotected data is a big deal. A lost USB, Hard-disk, Laptop or iPod can land you and your organisation in a messy situation. Encrypt everything portable.

5. Protect Your Wi-Fi – Despite the known vulnerabilities in open Wi-Fi Networks, some still keep it open and insecure. Some people use Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), but it has been shown that WEP can be broken into in as little as four seconds. It is recommended to use at least WPA as a bare minimum. WPA2 is a better alternative. WPA2 is a modern wireless security standard that is supported by most modern operating systems, and is a lot more difficult to break into than WEP or WPA2.