Working and socialising from home has become the new normal. This recent change in the way that we live our lives and work has further exposed our vulnerability to cyber security threats. No industry or individual is exempt from the risks that cyber security threats present to us. For unscrupulous hackers, the global pandemic serves as a competitive playing field for those who continuously seek to profit off the major disruptions to our daily way of life. Public services, such as hospitals have been one of the main targets for hackers, according to a recent investigation by INTERPOL’s Cybercrime Threat Response Team. Cybercriminals are using ransomware to hold hospitals and medical services digitally hostage; preventing them from accessing vital files and systems until a ransom is paid. 

On a global scale, the issue is so severe that not only do such attacks have the potential to directly be linked to deaths, but INTERPOL has also issued a purple notice to the law enforcement agencies of its 194 members prompting them to join the global fight against cyber criminals. Such events should raise concerns about the state of our individual cyber security practices, given that our public services and health care systems can be compromised so easily. 

Cyber hygiene 

Our current reality should prompt us to understand more about what cyber hygiene is and why it matters now more than ever. In a nutshell, good cyber security is a series of consistent preventative measures taken by individuals and organisations to safeguard our systems, e.g laptops, PCs and other devices, from becoming infected with malware and other malicious software, which is often used by hackers to acquire private information about individuals and intellectual property. A key point to note is that much like physical hygiene, cyber hygiene is regularly conducted to ward off natural deterioration and common threats. 

We have scoured the web to help you to see how you can implement cyber hygiene practices into your working environment. You don’t have to be a cyber expert or “techie” to start using most of the tools we’ve found. 

1.IT leaders in small businesses 

The process of building organisational resilience to cyber security threats shouldn’t be complicated. Taking leadership now to implement cyber security policies that work for your organisation which could also enhance your organisation’s business continuity practices post COVID-19. By mitigating the risks of cyber violation you can save time, money and your organisation’s reputation. Here are a few helpful tips to help you get started. 

  • We recommend taking a look at the National Cyber Security Centre’s guidelines to learn how to improve your organisation’s cyber security. 
  • We’re all in a state of constant flux, adapting to our new normal. Learn more from Cybersmart about how you can make your business resilient and cyber proof in an era of remote working. We also recommend opting for their Cyber Essentials Certification package, to give your clients peace of mind that their data is secure. (Elemendar is already certified, of course!)
  • To gain an all round understanding of principles you might want to consider when developing your organisation’s cyber security policies, Hiscox’s cyber security, prevention and insurance model serves as a useful guide. 


2. Innovators / students / academics 

If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees. – Kahlil Gibran, The Wanderer. 

  • Our current, albeit temporary way of working has in many ways reduced our ability to cooperate effectively and even safely. One of the likely consequences of this is, unfortunately, the potential rise of IP infringement. For brands and sole creatives alike it is important to protect your IP, for example by taking these practical actions. 
  • We’ve found a list of cloud storage platforms that can be useful in helping you to protect your work online. You can find a full breakdown of cloud software platforms here. 

3.Self-employed, freelancers et. al.

Just as it is crucial for small businesses to ensure that they have a cyber security policy in place, it is equally important for sole traders and/or independent consultants to do the same. This may sound like a strenuous or time consuming task, however in the long run the rewards outweigh the ransomware risks. Here’s some of our suggested useful guides for setting up your own self-employed cyber security protection.

  • A three step guide covering the fundamentals, and basically all you need to know by Tech Solutions. 
  • Everyday practical guides, outlining the importance of VPNs, remote collaboration, identification of phishing scams by Contact. 
  • For more guidance on how to stay safe while working remotely, follow Tessian’s 8 step guide to gain further insights on all things Zoom and protecting your data through emails. 

We hope that the tips above are useful and can help you to implement better cyber hygiene practices. 

Nadia Khan

Content Strategist 

Elemendar - AI for CTI