While the internet has made it easier to conduct businesses and has increased connectivity, it has also brought in the dangers of cyber attacks. These days most of the companies have their entire data available on cloud networks which are susceptible to attacks. In spite of repeated warnings from cyber security advisors, we see people being negligent with their passwords by writing them on a random piece of paper or divulging it to others. Mobiles have become such an irreplaceable part of our lives that we don’t even think twice before downloading any app that looks interesting. While all these activities may seem innocuous enough, in reality, they’re extremely risky.
Millions of websites exist on the internet and billions of documents of sensitive data are just lying out there in the World Wide Web, right in the reach of any hacker who tries to fish around. In the last year, a survey showed that 85% organizations in the UK had been hit with phishing attacks, while Kaspersky anti-virus reported a marked increase in the number of scam emails in the last year. Thus, it is time we let go of the myth that hackers will just target other big organizations, and not us. As IT Support companies keep warning us, every device and document accessible from the internet is susceptible to attacks. As such, developing healthy, vigilant cyber security habits will go a long way in mitigating this threat. Here’s looking at 5 best cyber security habits that everyone must practice:
Enable Multi-factor authentication
The first habit you can inculcate is to activate multi-factor authentication. Well, it is common knowledge that all data and accounts must be password protected, with a strong password at that. However, there is always a chance that a potential hacker may stumble upon your passwords and gain access to your account. To avoid such a scenario, it helps to add an extra level of security. With 2-factor or 3-factor authentication, even after someone enters your password, a verification code is sent to your mobile phone or email or both. Only when you enter the code, you can gain access. This kind of security measure ensures that your data remains safe even if your password is compromised.
Install timely software/hardware updates
Ask any IT Consultancy and they’ll tell you how vital it is that you keep your systems updated. Right from your operating system, to your emails, software, and apps, all need to be constantly updated. Keeping your systems up-to-date ensures that all the bugs are repaired and your system is equipped to deal with new and advanced potential threats. Along with this, also ensure that all your desktops, be it at home or at work, are equipped with firewalls and licensed antivirus software that provide comprehensive security and safeguard your data.
Train your staff
When it comes to any commercial organization, your staff can always make or break you. Thus, having a vigilant, trained staff that is alert to the security susceptibilities, both physical and virtual, is highly helpful. IT support companies generally recommend holding periodic seminars and training sessions for employees to make them aware of the dangers of cyber attacks. These training sessions usually include dos and don’ts like keeping your workstations, Wi-Fi, and email accounts password-protected, restricting access according to hierarchy, not opening suspicious emails, not divulging sensitive data to potentially malicious entities, etc. Additionally, you can also hold simulations for preventive practices against threats.
Crosscheck your Backups
Businesses usually deal with humongous amounts of sensitive data including personnel details, client information, sales proposals, marketing strategies etc. As such, losing out all your data to a phishing or DDOS attack can incur tremendous financial losses and damage your company’s reputation. Thus, firms that offer IT Support provide the option of secure, periodic backups. Backing up your data to cloud infrastructures is not enough, for as long as the information is on the internet, it is always susceptible. So, make it a point to take offline backups, and keep checking them from time to time to assure they haven’t got corrupted.
Prevent and secure against Phishing
The most common type of cyber attack is a phishing attack. In this attack, a hacker steals personal information by pretending to be a legitimate entity. For example, you may feel you’re on your net banking website when in reality you’re on the hacker’s replica website. You will enter all your banking details, initiate a transaction, and just like that the attacker will have all your banking details. To prevent against such attacks, always check the URL of a site, don’t initiate transactions on unsecured sites, don’t click on links in emails, and always think before sharing sensitive personal information with a third party. Phishing attacks are deadly and very risky and you must be prepared to deal with them.
For those of you who want to go a step further, it is the world of technological advancements and bio metric access control systems are in vogue. You can set up bio metric authentication systems, and secure user data with unique fingerprints, retina scans, or RFID sensors. Even physical security can be tightened by restricting entry to certain areas in the workplace. Setting up a VPN in your office would also provide an added layer of protection.
Other security measures would include not leaving important data lying around, deleting sensitive information when you’re done with it, not clicking on any email links, and not divulging sensitive details to potential strangers, among others. Also, make sure you delete any defunct accounts or apps that you may have downloaded but don’t use anymore. These could be an entry point for hackers to break into your system.
With a multitude of preventive practices around, common mistake organizations make is to assume they’re completely safe with their security measures in place. But remember, none of the preventive measures is foolproof. Thus, it pays to be prepared for a cyber attack and have a mitigation plan in place. You could also appoint any IT Consultancy to help you through the process, and ensure that you and your staff are well prepared to stand tall against any cyber security threat.
Author Bio: David Share has held positions as Operations Director and Head of IT in legal and professional firms for more than 10 years. He is a Director and co-owner of Amazing Support, a Microsoft Silver & Cyber Essentials accredited specialist Managed IT Support and Cyber Security Company. David actively helps SME businesses receive better Managed IT Support and Cyber Security Services in the London and Hertfordshire areas.