Gone are the days when a locked file cabinet, a strong door, and a heavy deadbolt were all you needed to keep your company’s data safe. These days, data breaches are more likely to occur in the digital sphere.
Some of the top digital threats for businesses arise from malware, data theft, ransomware, phishing schemes, undermined passwords, and inside attacks from current or former employees. In fact, higher number of businesses are installing security cameras because employee theft of all types is on the rise. While the methods behind digital attacks can vary widely, their purpose is almost always to steal sensitive data for financial exploitation (such as stealing someone’s credit card number or personal identity).
Massive data breaches at large corporations like Target and Home Depot are most likely to grab eyeballs. But every business, irrespective of their industry, is susceptible to digital privacy invasions. In fact, many hackers purposely target small businesses because they’re less likely to have security systems in place.
Unfortunately, a lot of businesses operate on the “let’s hope it won’t happen to us” strategy when it comes to maintaining their digital privacy. But sticking your head in the sand won’t help you during a cyber-attack. The following tactics, on the other hand, will help you reduce the risk of ever having to deal with one.
Keep all devices up to date
Every company-related computer or electronic device should be outfitted with the latest iteration of its operating system, security software or virus scanner, other software, and web browser. The most recent versions will always provide the best protections. Whenever a new device is introduced into your arsenal, make sure it is scanned and updated before it’s allowed to connect to other devices on your network.
Implement security checkpoints
This applies in two different ways:
- The physical- Given that remote working options are on the rise, many businesses possess devices that frequently exit the company’s physical premises. For digital data to remain secure, every smartphone, tablet, or laptop that belongs to the company needs to be secured at all times. That means educating employees to only use safe Wi-Fi connections (or ideally a VPN) and to refrain from sharing the device with family members or friends.
- The digital- At a minimum, every work device should be password-protected. Two-factor authentication is most appropriate. Educate employees about how to create strong passwords, and ensure that all passwords are frequently changed. Use lock screens on all devices when they aren’t in use. Utilize firewalls and spam filters on all devices.
Use the cloud wisely
Cloud storage has transformed the way companies do business. While it’s hard to pass up these benefits, it’s important to use them wisely. That means you should refrain from storing any sensitive information on third-party servers. Reserve this data for your own network instead. At a minimum, encrypt all sensitive data before uploading it to the cloud.
Establish clear protocols
One of the biggest threats to a business’ security arises when employees aren’t on the same page. Everyone on your team needs to have a clear understanding of what constitutes “sensitive” information, how this type of information gets processed (e.g. encryption), and what not to do with sensitive data. Establish these protocols, make sure every relevant employee is trained to follow them, and regularly audit the state of your sensitive information to ensure the protocols are being followed.
Back up your data
This is one of the best ways to protect your company’s assets in the unfortunate event that any data is actually stolen. Regularly back up your data, encrypt the backups, and store them off-site for maximum security.
Don’t neglect your social profiles.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social profiles are incredibly valuable tools for businesses. They’re also susceptible to cyber-attacks. Practice social security by assigning more than one admin to each social account, limiting the rights available to non-administrators who utilize the account and teaching your team to use a secured login whenever they’re using their personal accounts to access the company page.
A strong digital security system operates functions the same way as a home security system. You try to limit intruders’ access to your “home” (or business) by installing strong checkpoints (e.g. doors, deadbolts, password protection, or firewalls). You also have a backup system in place should they manage to break through these defenses. In a home, this amounts to hiding your valuables in unexpected places or in strong safes; at a business, this means having multiple tiers of defense between a possible hacker and your most sensitive information.
While these practices might seem cumbersome, they’re much less of a hassle than dealing with the financial, legal, and time deficits that arise from cyber-attacks.
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