With the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) only 8 months away from coming into force, surveys are showing that many businesses across the UK and Ireland are still confused about exactly what the regulation means for them, and may be unprepared for GDPR. A survey conducted of over 1000 IT decision makers revealed that 64% were unaware that customers’ birth dates are considered personally identifiable information (PII), which is especially worrying as any mishandling of such data could constitute a breach of the GDPR and result in fines of up to €20 million. 42% did not realise that email marketing databases contained PII, 32% did not consider physical addresses to be and 21% did not even consider customer email addresses to be PII. In contrast, 85% of these survey respondents reported that they have reviewed the GDPR requirement thoroughly and 79% believe they have done everything they need to do to secure their data. This disparity marks a worrying trend for businesses, big or small.
With the GDPR now less than 8 months away from becoming enforceable, businesses all over the EU and indeed any company that conducts business with EU citizens are scrambling to prepare in time for the legislation. The upcoming General Data Protection Regulation was designed to give back clarity and control to users about how their sensitive data is being processed and held, but has led to quite a bit of confusion for businesses about how this will actually work. Most people will have heard about the increased fines, as regulators can now fines offending bodies up to €20 million or 4% of global turnover, but there is a lot of confusion and indeed misinformation and misinterpretation out there to make the process even more difficult. To this end, there’s a few things we’d like to set the record straight on, particular around consent. Over the coming weeks and months we hope to provide more guidance of areas prone to misinterpretation, so stay tuned!
Myth: You must always have consent to process someone personal data.
With the stakes so high, it can be hard to tell the difference between important guidance and scaremongering when it comes to the GDPR
Ransomware has taken the world by storm this year, costing millions for businesses around the world. In the last 12 months alone, the number of ransomware variants spotted in the wild has more than doubled. As its prevalence has increased, so has the complexity of the attacks, and new ways to defend against them have been developed. Microsoft have been known to take the ransomware threat very seriously, even releasing a security patch for the long obsolete Windows XP operating system in the wake of the infamous WannaCry attack back in May. With the realease of the Windows 10 Creators Update (build 1703), now there are even more features built right in to the OS that can prevent and protect against ransomware. In fact, it’s so secure that Microsoft claim no Windows 10 devices were affected by WannaCry.
The Creators Update of Windows 10 is Microsoft’s most secure operating system yet, containing many anti-ransomware features
NIST is the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, and back in 2003, a password primer was written by one of its managers that put forward recommendations, many of which became the rules we have now. Special characters, mixture of upper and lower case letters, regular password changes – these have all been adopted into ‘best practice’ for password security since NIST made these recommendations. Now, however, these complexity guidelines and regular password changes have been repeatedly proven by experts to actually be less secure for companies, due to the work-arounds humans put in place to make remembering password easier. NIST thankfully have released their mistake and have provided updated best practice standards for password security. Why the sudden change of heart, you may ask? Well, over a billion passwords a year are breached by cyber criminals, and the data obtained shows that when presented with a long list of password criteria, people tend to try something basic first and then just tweak it until it fits. For example, ‘password’ becomes ‘Password1’, which may be more mathematically secure, but can be easily guessed instead.
Previously established guidelines are mostly being discarded, in favour of rules that simplify passwords for the user
No one looks forward to those mandatory password changes every few months, as it can be incredibly frustrating to constantly think of new passwords with the right mixture of capital letters, special characters and numbers. In fact, many people try to simplify the process by using a variation of their previous password – ‘Password1’ becomes ‘Password2’, and so on. In fact, the entire basis for issuing new guidelines stems from one simple fact; people can’t remember all the passwords that they have been forced to create, ultimately causing them to create less secure passwords than if they didn’t have to adhere to the guidelines in the first place. So with all that in mind, here’s a breakdown of the new best practices and why they’re easier and more secure:
A brute-force attack consists of an attack trying many passwords with the hope of eventually guessing correctly. The attack systematically checks all passwords until the correct one is found, carried out by some form of machine or program. The resources required to carry out a brute-force attack increase exponentially with the length of the password. Short passwords can often be brute-forced in a manner of minutes or hours. Longer, more secure passwords can be made prohibitively difficult to crack, as even a password with only lowercase letters but 15 containing 15 characters would take an estimated 1000 years to crack.