Cybersecurity breaches have increased by 67% since 2014. As technology becomes more advanced, so do cybercriminals. Not only are these crimes becoming more ubiquitous, but they’re also becoming more ambitious.
Every business owner and leader must prioritize cybersecurity in 2020, no matter what their industry, niche, or organization size. With so much at stake, leaving your operation vulnerable to an attack could be costly in terms of both money and reputation. In some cases, it may even put you out of business entirely. Don’t make yourself a victim. Instead, follow these 6 tips.
Think password protection
Who among us hasn’t used the same password for multiple accounts? Unfortunately, this is an easy way to make yourself susceptible to hackers. Use a unique password for each account, and ensure that your employees do the same.
You should also create passwords that are difficult to guess — not the name of your pet, for example — and include a mix of characters, numbers, and capital and lowercase letters. To further protect your business, ask your IT department to establish minimum criteria for employee passwords.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is another means of protecting your passwords and information. This means that you must verify your identity two ways, both with your username and password and through another vehicle, such as entering a PIN number that is texted to you or responding to a security question.
Be careful of storing passwords on your phone, too. Make sure you set up the lock function, just in case you lose your phone or someone steals it. Otherwise, they’ll have access to all your private information via your apps, email, and so on.
Always, always backup your data, whether it’s employee, company, customer, or personal information. This is essential in case anything or anyone gains access to your accounts. They could destroy or alter it, and if you don’t have another copy, you’ll lose it forever.
Keep these copies elsewhere. The cloud is a good option, seeing as it doesn’t depend on a physical device and can be accessed anywhere, but you should also keep a copy on an external device in case your cloud account is compromised. Encrypt sensitive data, too, to protect yourself even further in case a hacker does try to break in.
Install a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) establishes an encrypted connection between your device and a server, making it difficult for cybercriminals to steal your information. This is especially helpful for situations such as accessing public wifi. Hackers can intercept your information if your connection is not secure, and a VPN can help prevent this.
Make sure all your devices are equipped with a VPN and that your employees use one whenever they access company information, even their email.
Invest in antivirus software
Antivirus software is important for stopping malicious attacks, whether you’ve fallen victim to a phishing scheme and clicked on a link that could harm you or navigated to a suspicious website. It will detect malware and prevent it from breaching your device.
Don’t just rely on the antivirus software that comes with your device. Cybercriminals are finding new ways to break in every day, and this software is rarely advanced enough to prevent sophisticated attacks. Instead, research other options that will provide better security. There are plenty of choices out there, so you’re sure to find one that suits your needs.
Updates are essentially corrections product manufacturers put out to existing software when they spot bugs or errors. These fixes add security and help protect your device. That’s why it’s important to download updates that become available immediately.
In many cases, your device will be preset to download updates automatically or you can configure your settings to do so. Updates do require storage space, though, so you’ll also need to make sure you have enough by deleting unused items and uploading data and files you’re not currently using to the cloud.
Stay on the alert for any suspicious threats, such as a phishing scam disguised as an email containing a link with malware. Make sure your employees are aware of these threats, too. You might, for example, require training seminars on how to spot a threat, as well as have employees sign an acceptable use policy.
You should also make sure you’re aware of news regarding cybercrime and inform your employees accordingly. Your IT department will probably say informed about prominent attacks and threats, but you should set up Google alerts and read up on crimes that could impact you and your organization, too.
You’ve probably heard about the big cybercrimes over the years, but even a small scale one can have an enormous impact on your business. Simply put, you and your organization can’t afford to leave yourself vulnerable — you must be proactive about putting a strong cybersecurity plan in motion.