All it takes is one infected file or a stolen company computer to suddenly crush a company’s bottom line. The good news is that YOU actually have the power to save the company from data destruction by practicing good cybersecurity habits.
This won’t necessarily be easy as it will require you to scrutinize both your online and offline work activities a little bit more than usual. I want you to forget everything that you think you already know and start out with fresh eyes and new habits.
When you protect your employer’s data, you’re also safeguarding your job. Let’s take a look at some things that you can do today to improve the cybersecurity at work.
Understand Even Small Businesses are at Risk
With cyber crime on the rise, it is surprising to see that so many small business owners still believe their company is safe from hackers, viruses, malware or a data breach. They believe that cyber attacks will only happen to the much bigger businesses which isn’t true at all. A hacker will go after ANY target if it is easy enough.
Outside sources like hackers aren’t the only way your company can be attacked. Often smaller companies have a family-like atmosphere and put too much trust in their employees. This can lead to complacency, which is exactly what a disgruntled or recently fired employee needs to execute an attack on the business.
Keep Your Operating System Up-to-Date
Your operating system or OS is central command for your desktop, laptop, or even your smartphone. This makes it a prime target for hackers that want to steal information. If they gain access to this, they can then download, install, and otherwise exploit your workstations. Taking control is how hackers steal your employer and clients’ data.
OS updates are not something to be missed. These updates apply critical security fixes to your software. This may be simpler to just set your computer up for automatic updates to your OS.
This should go without saying but you would be surprised at just how many people choose to use very poor passwords or even no passwords at all. Ever year, a list is published online of the top used worst passwords and here are just three of the top results:
No, I did not just make those up, there are people actually using these passwords to ‘supposedly‘ keep their information safe. Want to see the list for yourself, head over to Digital Trends by clicking here.
You need a strong password that’s hard to guess using a mixture of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols. Here are a few tips to help you create stronger passwords:
- Be unpredictable – replace some of the letters with symbols such as replacing the “S” with the “$“. Strong passwords are unique, but most of us try and make them unique in the same ways. It’s a paradox that seems hard to overcome until you know a handy trick: Randomize your letter substitutions and capitalizations. Instead of “$” for “S”, choose “&” for “S”.
- Length – Passwords should be fairly long while still being easy for you to remember. The longer the password, the harder it is for a hacker to crack. Try to aim for a minimum of 8 characters using a mixture as mentioned before.
Ransomware increased by 250 percent in 2017, affecting businesses of every size. With this kind of attack, cybercriminals hack into a computer, encrypt the data, and hold it for ransom. This costs employers millions every year. But regularly backing up your employer’s data takes away the profit incentive.
Use both a physical and cloud-based drive for backups. If one drive is hacked, you’ll have the other available. Most backups to the cloud sync your data automatically and let you choose which folders to upload. Talk with your employer about which files need to be backed up and which can remain locally stored. Set up a regular maintenance schedule to review your backup plans.
A very simple step to prevent cyber attacks is to install antivirus software which will protect your work devices from phishing emails, spyware, botnets, and other harmful malware.
Keep an Eye on Employees
Employees are one of the key elements of the company because they have insights of the business and are privy to the operations. Keep employees motivated and discourage them from leaking out crucial information, try to make them more loyal to the company. In addition to this, keep a backup of all the messages that are exchanged between employees. Check on how they use passwords and keep these passwords safe from unauthorized personnel. You can use a Password Manager for generating and managing the passwords of your company.
Using two-factor authentication within your company can help minimize the risk of getting hacked. Encourage all employees to use two-factor authentication as it increases security by adding an additional step for accessing accounts. Once set up, you would have to enter a password as usual but also enter a code which is sent to your smartphone, something that only you have access to. This double authentication allows you to protect your data and discourages hackers from attacking.
Conduct cybersecurity risk assessments on a regular basis in order to mitigate the risks. There should be a separate department in your company that is dedicated to minimizing the risk of data loss. Risk Management is one of the key factors that contribute towards the growth of your company as it keeps the business safe from getting exposed to competitors who are always looking for insights.
Extra Steps to Prevent Cyber Attacks
- Train your employees in cyber security principles.
- Use a firewall for your Internet connection.
- Make backup copies of important business data and information.
- Control physical access to your computers and network components.
- Secure your Wi-Fi networks. If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace make sure it is secure and hidden.
- Require individual user accounts for each employee.
- Limit employee access to data and information and limit authority to install software.
- Regularly change passwords.