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The Hot Seat: Be Afraid

A false sense of security is your worst enemy when it comes to safeguarding personal and corporate data.

The recent expose of state-sponsored hacking emphasises, more than ever, the need for data security. “For corporations, it’s a board-level consideration which often doesn’t become a mainboard conversation until an attack has happened,” says William Padfield of Dimension Data – a provider of information- and communications-technology services.

Think your company is safe behind the firewall? All that is needed to get behind it is a virus in a thumbdrive sent to somebody in the office. “Data security is an evolving issue and keeping current is critical. People today want to access information from all places, using their own devices operating on different platforms. So, the focus now is on end-point security and securing not just data-at-rest, but also data-in-motion.”

He adds: “Over the next few years, there will also be a transition to intelligence that is built into the system or network, offering a greater level of security.”

While corporations can turn to firms such as Dimension Data to protect core information assets – which can range from financial data to a recipe for a soft drink – the individual has himself to rely on.

He gives advice in broad strokes, such as not leaving obvious information like bank-account numbers and passwords on the computer, disconnecting from the Internet when not using it, flushing caches, and not assuming that mobile devices such as phones and tablets are secure, given new forms of hacking through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Short of going back to how your grandfather lived, there is indeed no place to hide for the modern man. He says: “Having said that, I’m a huge Internet shopper and happily use Paypal. Just never by credit card.

“Every time you hit the enter key, think: Who else can see this? A bit of fear is not a bad thing.”