With non-targeted cyberattacks growing with impunity and in frequency, Serguei Beloussov is exactly who you want as CEO of a company that deals with data security: no-nonsense, steely and sharp as a whip. The Russia-born multi-hyphenate – a Singaporean since 1994 – has founding roles in seven companies, which span the breadth of electronics and software to venture capital firms.
And so when asked to make sense of the digital threats facing the modern-day consumer, the Acronis boss adroitly sums up the core of the multifarious problem in a simple mantra: You are your data.
Digital “health” must then become an appreciable metric of your quality of living, and Beloussov says attitudes and infrastructure have to be built around this new paradigm of our lives.
“(It took) thousands of years of human existence – people now understand that if someone is sick, it is possible to get infected. And so we now practise basic hygiene rules, and get vaccinated,” he says.
RANSOMWARE “Locks” your data, demands thousands to release it.
Wreak havoc on your systems, compromising function. VIRUSES
SPYWARE Logs and sells information like credit card and bank account numbers.
That same awareness has to be nurtured when it comes to our digital selves, now that our devices “are extensions of our bodies”, after the advent of the smartphone. Three basics steps are all it takes (see below) to fulfil what Beloussov terms “responsibility” to everyone else.
“If the 99 per cent are vaccinated, then the 1 per cent, when infected, cannot cause a pandemic,” says Beloussov. He notes that Singapore’s sterling reputation as safe haven needs to extend to this space as well.
What of using apps and online services that require personal information, in exchange for convenience? “Ah, you see,” says Beloussov with rare levity, “that is what I have personal assistants for.”
Beloussov prescribes three basic layers of protection for a happy digital life.
STEP 1: PROTECT
Most modern devices come equipped with entry-level software that handles basic threats. But it’s best to entrust your digital health to companies that have security as their core business. Beloussov recommends purchasing at least one antivirus software.
STEP 2: UPDATE
Some users tend to put off security updates, giving attackers a window of opportunity to exploit vulnerabilities. Beloussov advises enabling automatic updates – more so now that artificial intelligence-driven defences are advanced enough to pre-empt, and prevent, attacks.
STEP 3: BACKUP
One cannot ensure complete immunity to threats, but creating a failsafe is well within your means and interests. By backing up personal and corporate data, you effectively mitigate the effect of ransomware, as your company may only be set back a few days, instead of years.”