Level 11 Tech adviser Robert Williams shares tips for online security

25 June 2019 Consultancy.asia 4 min. read
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Robert Williams, the Chief Technology Adviser for Philippines-based digital and cyber-defence consultancy Level 11 Tech, has shared his tips on-line security basics.

During a recent showcase event in Manila hosted by local IT services and consultancy Level 11 Tech, the firm’s Chief Technology Adviser Robert Williams gave an overview of the modern cybersecurity and data privacy landscape – noting that the most common cyber-attacks against SMEs are through ransomware, phishing and malware, with over 90 percent of cases delivered by e-mail.

Indeed, according to statistics provided by the firm, while nearly 80 percent of people surveyed claim to know the risks associated with unknown links, many still commonly click on them. This increasingly blasé attitude to online security is contrary to the growing sophistication of attackers, and with SMEs – which are typically ill-equipped and under-resourced to deal with a breach – being ever more targeted, the first line of defence should start with the basics.

Mobile Devices

An advocate for a ‘People, Process & Tools’ approach to combating threats and reducing operational risks, Williams has now shared his personal tips for online protection and privacy – ranging from securing mobiles, PCs and laptops to safe online browsing – including the most basic tip of them all; enabling the screen lock password on mobile devices.  “One click is all it takes to secure your device,” states Williams.

He continues; “Also install or enable software to remotely track your device, and if your device is lost or stolen, you can connect to it over the Internet and find its location, or in a worst-case situation, remotely wipe all of your information on it.” As for application security, Williams suggests installing a mobile antivirus (AV) app for Android devices, and for iOS, he recommends Lookout as the best option.

Level 11 Tech adviser Robert Williams shares tips for online security

Also, update your devices so they are always running the latest version of the operating system and applications, which should only be downloaded by trusted sources. “Bypassing reliable app markets is dangerous,” warns Williams. “There is a reason these apps can’t be found in app stores. Apps within Google Play and the Apple App store are screened for legitimacy, quality, safety, and many other factors. Apps outside of markets are more likely to be infected with malicious programming.”

Once you’ve secured your devices, the next step is to take safety and privacy precautions when connected and browsing online, especially, says Williams, in the light of some global companies trading Personally Identifiable Information (PII) data records to third parties. “Mobile phone and messaging Telecom providers routinely store records of every phone call you make, which includes the date, time, call duration, caller number, and receiver number,” notes Williams.

He continues; “Unfortunately, some mobile phone operators have also routinely been selling data that can pinpoint the location of its mobile users to third-party intermediaries.” Here, Williams recommends secure calling service such as Viber, Telegram and Signal, although sender and receiver details are not encrypted on Signal. He adds, “If you want to avoid using your own phone number (or email address) then the Threema app provides you with a unique ID.”

Desktop & Laptop and Online browsing

In respect to Desktop and Laptop Security, there are generally many more security and protection utilities available than for mobile devices says Williams. For Windows, suggested anti-malware software options include Trojan Remover, Malware Bytes, and Bitdefender, and for Macs (and yes, while rare ‘in the wild’, Mac malware does indeed exist) Williams says it is advisable to install Intego's Mac Internet Security X9. For Linux systems, use ClamAV.

As for online browsing, Williams provides an important reminder; “Browsing the Web and Search Engines’ Private browsing mode (Google Chrome Incognito, InPrivate Browsing etc.) does not shield you from detection, all it really does is hide your history from those who have access to your computer. The sites visited by your IP address are still recorded.” Search engine DuckDuckGo does not allow cookies or pop ups and does not track a user’s online activity.

Lastly, Williams urges users to encrypt their valuable hard-drive data, “as data on your hard drive is vulnerable to attack, especially to ransomware attacks.” VeraCrypt allows creation of encrypted containers and works on PC and Mac. Also, as Gmail and many other popular email providers are not end-to-end encrypted, Williams recommends ProtonMail, which “enables you to send password-protected emails and messages that self-destruct after a certain time-frame.”