Cyber attacks are the big security issues of our age for businesses, so how do you minimise the chance of being on the end of one?
Understand What You Are Dealing With
Before you can come up with an effective plan for keeping your company safe from cyber attacks, you need to have an idea of the threats that you are dealing with. This includes both internal and external threats. Here are some of the most common computer security problems today’s companies face:
- Low-quality passwords. The vast majority of cyber attacks occur because people choose passwords that are too weak. Making the problem even worse, more than half of all people use the exact same password for all of their accounts. The best way to eliminate this problem is by choosing stronger passwords. Make sure that passwords are a minimum of 16 characters and that they contain a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and characters. Create a different password for each of your logins. You can keep track of all of these passwords by using a high-quality password manager.
- Malware. Systems can easily be infected with malware programs that are capable of doing everything from harvesting data to capturing keystrokes and passwords. The best way to avoid this problem is by running a high-quality malware-prevention program. For instance, Norton Toolbar does a great job of controlling these threats. You should also make sure that you install any updates that come out for your software programs. Business owners should be careful after the Equifax breach
- Phishing. Oftentimes, people send out fake emails that are designed to look official in an attempt to get you to give away your password or download a virus. Employees should be trained on how to spot potential phishing attempts. Always double check the URL of any links that come in through email to make sure that you are going to a trusted site. Again, it is also important to make sure that all of your software and your operating system are kept up-to-date.
- Ransomware. If hackers are able to take control of your computer system, they may hold it hostage until you pay them a specific amount of money as a ransom payment. There are a variety of different tools from leading computer security companies like AVG, Avast, and Trend that are designed to combat ransomware.
- Social engineering attacks. With this type of attack, a hacker obtains as much personal information about you as they can. They then use this information to reset the passwords on your accounts. You can avoid this problem by minimizing the amount of personal information that you share. You can also incorporate company policies that require passwords to be reset by phone.
Use A Toolbar To Prevent Phishing
Most of today’s leading web browsers allow you to use toolbars to minimize phishing attacks. These toolbars automatically screen websites to make sure that they are not phishing sites. If you do find your way to a bad site, you will instantly be alerted so that you can avoid accidentally providing hackers with your password or other personal information. Best of all, these toolbars are free to use.
Check The Security Of A Site Before Using It
Don’t rely solely on anti-phishing toolbars to protect you. Instead, perform your own checks to make sure that the sites that you are on are legitimate. It can take a while for a site to get flagged as a phishing site. Being proactive about verifying the security of the websites that you visit is a good way to protect yourself.
Double check to make sure that the URL of the site starts with “https”. Additionally, there should be a closed padlock icon in the address bar of your browser. Don’t forget to check the security certificate of the website, as well.
If your toolbar does alert you to a threat, avoid opening the website. Never download files from sources that you don’t trust.
Watch Out For Pop-Up Windows
People with malicious intent often use pop-ups as a way of gathering information from unsuspecting users. The easiest way to prevent this problem is by setting your browser to prevent pop-ups. To close any pop-up windows, always click on the X in the upper right-hand corner of the window. Never click on a dialog box to close a pop-up since it may install a virus or activate a malicious program.
Monitor Your Online Accounts
Periodically log into your online accounts to make sure that everything looks okay. Even if you don’t have a specific reason to log into your accounts, try to check them on a regular basis to make sure that nothing underhanded is going on behind the scenes. Each time you log in to check your accounts, consider changing your password.
Don’t forget to review your bank and credit card statements closely, keeping your eyes open for any unexpected charges. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to spot fraudulent charges or unapproved activity.
Make Sure Sensitive Data Is Encrypted
Any sensitive information that your company deals with should be encrypted at all times. Otherwise, hackers may be able to steal that data. For instance, if you have the Social Security numbers of your employees or your customers stored on your computer system, they should always be stored in an encrypted format.
This is one of the easiest ways to safeguard your data. In fact, most of today’s operating systems come with a full-disk encryption tool that can be activated with the click of your mouse. Since it is so easy to protect yourself, there is no reason not to.
Of course, this isn’t a cure-all. These services only provide encryption when people are not logged in. As a result, hackers could still gain access to the data if an employee is logged in but away from their computer. For instance, if they leave their computer logged in during their lunch break, the data could be accessed. This problem can be minimized by setting your company’s computers to log out automatically after a short period of inactivity.
Backup Your Data
One of the best ways to combat ransomware is by doing regular backups so that you always have access to your data. That way, even if a hacker takes control of your system, you won’t have to pay a ransom to regain access to your data.
Of course, this solution isn’t perfect – especially if your backup system is connected to your local device. Ideally, you should backup your data to the cloud. If you back it up locally, make sure that your backup storage device is not connected to your system. Otherwise, hackers could gain control of that as well. Keeping your backup data separate from your system is the best way to avoid becoming the victim of a ransomware attack.
Protecting your business against cyber attacks requires a multipronged approach. Implementing the steps in this article is a great way to get started. The more proactive you can be about protecting your company, the less likely you are to become the victim of an attack.