It’s hard to imagine the professional world before the Internet. Technology and the Internet now play an essential role in our business operations, as well as our personal lives. In October, we celebrate Cybersecurity Awareness Month to remind us of online security risks and how to prevent them. A strong cybersecurity strategy is equal parts understanding and education, investment in tools and systems, and personal savvy and responsibility. In this blog, we’ve gathered the best cybersecurity tips that any business can easily implement!
1. Keep all devices and systems up to date.
It may sound obvious, but the best defense against a cyber-attack is to regularly update your systems. Always make sure that your software, operating system, and browser are up to date. The older a system or device is, the more time hackers have had to find its weaknesses. Keeping everything current keeps you one step ahead of cyber criminals. Remember to turn on automatic system updates for your device, use automatic security updates on your web browser, and keep any and all web browser plugins updated.
2. Set up a strong password strategy.
Protection starts with a strong password. The passwords we create are the first line of defense against any kind of cyber-attack. In most instances, users are given some guidance and guidelines on creating a password (like requirements on the use of numbers, special characters, or uppercase versus lowercase lettering). If those guidelines aren’t present, it’s still possible to create a strong password. Some popular cybersecurity tips for passwords include using a minimum of eight characters and a maximum of 64 for a password, choosing a password that has unique meaning to you, creating a password using a coded phrase, and incorporating a mix of lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters. There are lots of online resources to help you assess the strength of your password.
Additionally, it’s important to vary your passwords and to have different passwords for each setting. Having different passwords protects you from hackers having access to all of your credentials, in the event of a breach. Remembering all of those passwords can be a challenge which is why password managers are a useful tool. A password manager is a software or program that keeps all of your passwords in one place. The user is only responsible for remembering one “master” password.
3. When in doubt, reach out.
A popular cyber-attack is the phishing scam. In phishing attempts, a cybercriminal assumes a false identity to try to trick the recipient into divulging information, clicking a virus link, or downloading an attachment that infects the user’s system. It’s common for phishing scammers to pose as a coworker or boss, customer services from a bank or social media app, or as a family member. It’s always better to be safe than sorry and if a message feels off and unexpected, it probably is. As a general rule, don’t open an email from someone you don’t know and be suspicious of any links or attachments (you can hover over a link to discover where it will direct you to). When in doubt, call or send a new email to a coworker or friend to verify whether a message is authentic.
4. Use a VPN.
A VPN, or virtual private network, extends a private network and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public connections with a heightened degree of security and privacy. Basically, a VPN connects its users as if they were in a private network. A VPN provider will encrypt data, scrambling it so that hackers, businesses, and government agencies can’t see your online searches, messages, or downloaded files. A VPN is an excellent tool used in business to create higher security and protect employees and valuable company information from cybercriminals.
5. Treat cybersecurity as the worthy investment that it is.
Think of it this way: cybersecurity is just as valuable to your business as your employees, customers and clients, and most private business information are. Cybersecurity is worth the investment of time, care, and resources. Firewalls, anti-virus protection, and other cybersecurity services and tools are absolutely worth the investment. Just as a third-party administrator can ease the burden of administering a benefits plan, technology professionals are there to take on the vital task of cybersecurity so that you don’t have to. Investing in cybersecurity goes beyond products and services. Cybersecurity starts with every individual employee! Training and educating your workforce on common cyber crimes and best cybersecurity tips and practices turns every employee into a cyber watchdog! These skills offer a benefit to the employer and the business, as well as to the employee. Cybersecurity is just as important in our personal lives as it is in the workplace.
Protecting Your Business and Practicing Cybersecurity
Cybercrime is constantly changing as new technologies are introduced. Now more than ever, entire industries and their workers are moving their operations online. That’s a lot of opportunity for cybercriminals to target a business! Luckily, tools and practices for better cybersecurity are emerging just as quickly. This Cybersecurity Awareness Month, take the time to assess your own cybersecurity and implement a strategy to keep you information safe!
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