The Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) is calling on businesses to make ‘one simple change’ in their computer usage to help slash the number and impact of cyber attacks.
Its urging firms to embrace patching, the act of updating computer systems to the most up-to-date version, which it says dramatically reduces the ability of e-criminals to make damaging hacking raids, such as stealing money, sharing personal information or sabotaging operations.
SBRC Director, Mandy Haeburn-Little, director of SBRC which, as the Scottish Government and Police Scotland’s business resilience delivery arm, has been tasked with delivering the cyber resilience strategy to help businesses and the public with the tools and knowledge to combat e-crime, said: “Updating your computer – or patching – is the one small thing everyone in Scotland could do to help in the fight against cyber crime.
“When hackers typically search for the next potential system to infiltrate they will cast a very wide net.
“If your system is, at the very least up-to-date, that will do a great deal to deter the would-be hacker from exploring weaknesses further. Think of it in the same way as having an alarm outside your house or the previous practice of having a steering wheel lock on your car.
“We know it can be frustrating to wait 20 minutes for an upload to take place, especially when you may have an important job to do on your computer.
“But such a simple practice will go an awfully long way to protect people and businesses from what can be very expensive or embarrassing data breaches.”
SBRC recommends setting computers to automatically install updates but check on a regular basis that this has been done.
It says that a simple check on the security area of your computer and ‘check for updates’ will reveal your computer’s status and that updates – which are free to install – make sure your computer has all identified vulnerabilities fixed.
Its advising that many systems now also offer ‘malicious software removal tools’ for free and that downloading and running such programs is a good idea to get rid of any existing malware on your computer.
Detective superintendent Steven Wilson of Police Scotland’s Specialist Crime Division, says that patching, along with making sure you install anti-virus software, have strong passwords and avoid opening unknown attachments, can protect against a large proportion of the online threat.
He said: “These simple steps will protect individuals and businesses against the vast majority of threats on the internet. If people heed them, we all will be much safer online.”
The advice comes as consultation ended on the Scottish Government’s ‘A Cyber Resilience Strategy for Scotland: Safe, Secure and Prosperous Online’ – which asks the views of individuals and organisations, on how Scotland can become even more resilient from cyber-attacks and crime when using online technologies.