Ardent are quickly gathering a larger social media presence alongside our profile as the market leader in successful DCO promotion. Whilst standing out is great for our brand, this also brings with it some business risk; the unwanted attention from hackers, cyber terrorists, and malicious stakeholders.

We have all heard of cyberattacks, malware, and viruses; we have seen their impacts on other organisations and other people whilst watching the news; but these are abstract; just instances of bad luck, right? We never believe they will happen to us. Of a GOV.UK survey, 46% of businesses within the UK fell victim to cyber-attacks in 2021. More and more of our institutions are becoming dangerously vulnerable to cybercrime and cyber terrorism, with serious impacts that reach further than just those of business operations.

In the spring of 2021, the U.S.A witnessed the largest malware cyberattack in its history, when the Colonial Pipeline was hacked. The Colonial Pipeline is the largest pipeline of refined oil products in the U.S.A, and transports gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from Huston, Texas, to New York State, supplying the East Coast of the U.S.A with 45% of its fuel. On 6th May, cyberterrorists, DarkerSide, breached the cybersecurity systems of the Pipeline, releasing malware that shut down the flow of oil, whilst systematically stealing nearly 100 gigabytes of customer data; which they threated to publish on the internet if a ransom of 75 Bitcoins ($5 million) was not paid.

The consortium that owns the Pipeline had no choice but to pay the ransom, as 118,042,627 people living on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States were left without a fuel supply, and a state of emergency was declared. What started as simple negligence in computer security, ended in damage to a nation’s infrastructure.

Like the Colonial Pipeline, UK infrastructure projects we work on risk becoming hotbeds of controversy, and with that brings an increased number of attempted cyberattacks. To help highlight National Computer Security Day, we have partnered with Bespoke Computing Ltd in order to share some of their lessons, useful tips, and information with our clients and partners.

So, what makes an organisation vulnerable to cyberattacks on a daily basis, and what can you do to help prevent them?

Lack of Endpoint Defences: Failing to set up adequate endpoint defences, such as up to date antivirus software can increase an organisations susceptibility to cyberattacks. Make sure that your computer is up to date with all antivirus software; if you’re unsure contact your IT team.

Extensive Account Privileges: It’s best to limit the number of individuals who have account privileges, as the less access to information individuals have, the less harm can be done if/when an account is compromised. If you don’t need access to certain account privileges, then don’t worry about it; simply contact your IT team for any assistance in gaining the information you require.

Password Negligence: Passwords should be complex, and changed frequently; and they should differ across all accounts. This can stop further accounts falling prey to cyberattacks from phishing emails, and can halt any further cyber breaches along your password chain. Make sure to change your password every three months, and always use a variety of cases, letters, numbers, and special characters.

Computer Configuration: You should never save password information when prompted by your computer or internet browser. If you are compromised by a cyberattack, any/all data leaks can expose more of your information if you are using a common password. If you, like many of us, cannot remember passwords, it’s best to keep these written down in a notebook.

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