The increasing cyber-attacks on online businesses have led to an urgent need to enhance cyber security. These attacks are costly, with the average data breach costing up to $4.24 million.
A solid security solution is thus a crucial need for any business wanting to thwart or weather security breaches. Fortunately, as cyber attackers become more daring and sophisticated in their techniques, companies are also developing stronger, more effective measures to counter these threats.
If you are looking to enhance your firm's security, here are 6 invaluable tips to help you do just that.
To gain entry into a business' security system, hackers look for loopholes they can exploit. These include outdated software, systems, browsers, or firewalls. Unfortunately, once they infiltrate your security systems, they can cause data breaches and all manner of harm, including:
- Identity theft
- Ransom demands
- Website defacement
- Disappearing files
Keeping your systems and applications up-to-date helps upgrade your security, protecting you from new or pre-existing security vulnerabilities. Besides, cybercriminals often target known software flaws to gain access to your system.
The quickest way to update your digital systems is to allow automatic system updates for all your devices. You can also use a patch management system. Note that if your hardware is outdated, you might need to upgrade it as well as it might not support new software and security upgrades.
To maximize your protection, consider installing anti-malware and antivirus software from legit providers, installing company-approved software only, and enabling your operating system's firewall. A firewall can thwart malicious attacks by blocking such traffic and restricting outbound communications to only what's necessary.
Regular data backups are critical in maintaining online security. Ideally, you should store your data plus all important files in 3 copies; two on local and external hard drives and one in an off-site location, preferably cloud storage. Regular backups enable you to restore important data quickly and effortlessly in the event of a cyber attack.
Encrypt all shared files to prevent unauthorized access. Encryption protects your data by adding another layer of security. Ensure that the tools used for file sharing are secure and that files remain encrypted both during transit and when in storage.
Additionally, you might want to consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to protect sensitive data or confidential information from cyber attacks. A VPN employs secure communication protocols and encrypts all data and information your device receives or transmits.
This is especially helpful when working away from the office, say in a cafe and, connecting to their unsecured Wi-Fi network.
Promoting a security-focused culture is key in protecting business data, particularly with the rise in remote working. Managing system access helps reduce unauthorized access and helps keep sensitive information away from prying eyes.
For example, service accounts should not have access to critical data or network shares, while centralized files should bear limitations on who can modify them.
- Avoid visits to unknown sites or software downloads from untrustworthy sources
- Be wary of official-looking emails that request company data or financial information
- Open email attachments containing compressed files with caution
- To avoid phishing scams, do not open suspicious-looking emails or those from unknown sources
- Always disable your Bluetooth after use
- Avoid leaving your devices unattended for long — lock-up laptops and tablets, use phone PIN, lock the screen, or shut down desktops when not in use
- Take extra care when plugging in external devices like smartphones, hard drives, or flash drives into your computer since they could infect your machine
- Limit your downloads to what is necessary — hackers can use these to gain access to your system
- Do not share details about work, such as contact info or your responsibilities on social media forums, since this can attract cybercriminals
One way to manage system access is to enable 2-factor or multi-factor authentication (MFA). Attackers can exploit inefficient authentication processes such as those that only require a username and password. The 2-factor authentication process offers an additional layer of protection to help verify that it's actually you accessing your account. And if an attacker were to guess your password, the extra security measure would help protect your account.
When storing sensitive information, keep it in a secure location — doing so limits access to authorized personnel only. On the same note, grant limited permissions to access files and folders. Giving accounts limited permissions helps to minimize access to sensitive information, thus improving security.
Besides, if an employee's machine gets infected, restricted permissions help prevent the malicious code from spreading to other accounts or escalating to the administrator's account.
Remember to revoke access when an employee exits the organization. Otherwise, they could access your system later with malicious intent.
This is a fundamental step in ensuring online security. Take it a step further and create unique, strong, and original passwords for each user and make a point of changing the passwords every 3-4 months. Also, ensure that each staff member gets their own set of logins for each application or program they use for enhanced security.
Some important things to note here are:
- Change all default usernames or passwords
- Avoid repeating old passwords or any that you're using elsewhere
- Avoid using easily identifiable passwords like pet names or your date of birth
- Long passwords are harder to crack, hence provide you with better security
- Strong passwords contain a minimum of 13 characters comprising numbers, symbols, upper and lowercase letters or phrases.
A password manager comes in handy when you have multiple passwords to recall. It keeps your passwords in a single location, allowing you to have one password to access the rest. A password manager also helps you generate complex passwords and saves you from having to write down your passwords somewhere which can be quite unsafe.
Ultimately, it's easier to prevent a security breach than to re-secure your essential data. By using cybersecurity software, you can help minimize cyber attacks on your business. For instance, you can limit virus infections using software that identifies and gets rid of spyware such as anti-spyware, antivirus, and anti-malware. Antivirus software typically features an anti-spyware option that you can activate.
Other types of cybersecurity software that you can use include:
- Encryption software — encrypts your sensitive data, including financial statements, client information, and employee records
- Firewalls for preventing unauthorized entry into your computer network
- Data backup solutions for backing up all business-critical data
- Password security software for setting up 2-step authentication
Consider buying adequate insurance cover to cater for any damages in case of a data breach. This can also protect you from incurring losses or liabilities resulting from a cyber attack.
Finally, it's important to note that hackers could attack your WordPress web page by uploading malware onto the hosting server. This can be a Virtual Private Server (VPS) or shared hosting. Therefore, to protect your web server from malware and prevent unauthorized persons from accessing your site, ensure you select a safe web hosting solution.
Hacking, malware, viruses, and phishing are some of the most common causes of security breaches. But armed with the correct information, it's possible to reduce human errors and prevent cybercrimes. So, keep learning about new cybersecurity threats and evolving ransomware techniques.
Next, have a cyber resiliency plan in place with properly laid out protocols for employees. This can help them respond quickly and manage any data breaches.
Lastly, by following the tips shared in this article, you can run your business with total peace of mind, knowing that your digital assets remain secure.
Jerry Low has years of experience in SEO and web hosting business. He owns and operates various successful sites, adapting quickly to ever-changing Google updates.