National Cyber Security Month
October is the month dedicated to cyber security, and in that spirit, it is always good to remind ourselves of the threats we face and how to protect ourselves, our businesses or our families online. National Cyber Security Awareness Month was born in 2004 as a collaborative venture by the government and various industries to inform people about threats and how to protect themselves. This time, we focus on how business people can stay safe online.
Caution on Malvertising
Cybercriminals use several techniques to victimize unwary users. Malicious advertising, popularly known as malvertising, is just one of the methods hackers use to trick you into downloading malware that works behind the scenes to steal information. Users must remain alert if they hope to protect themselves from advertising and other attacks that could lead to severe losses. You can do this by creating awareness among employees so they know not to do anything that might compromise your safety. Your employees should understand that not all pop-ups or ads that appear on pages are safe to click. You must also help them appreciate the fact that several phony websites could infect devices once opened. This is important as it will help people avoid falling into traps laid by cyber-criminals.
Passwords are the most popular way of protecting ourselves online and it is critical to prevent simple combinations of letters and/or numbers. Experts recommend organizations adopt strong passwords that are not easy to crack through guesswork or any other method. Words and numbers alone might not be enough protection against criminals who constantly devise new ways of cracking passwords. A password like john1989, for example, would give hackers nearly free passage into your private information unlike #$13jo8*jonas78*. It is, therefore, important to keep changing your passwords and never use the same one for sensitive accounts. Some believe the most secure password should be at least 12 characters long. To further enhance cyber security in the business environment, managers must take measures to restrict unauthorized access. This prevents accidents or misuse of equipment and information, which could in turn compromise security. Companies must regularly assess the level of protection needed to access online services by third parties and employees.
Improve your network security
Businesses can protect their networks using proxies, firewalls, and access lists. Some operating systems have built-in security features, but this is not always enough for businesses. You can execute these measures yourself if you have the proper staff, or opt for managed security services that will take care of things on your behalf. Outsourcing network security solutions means that you will never miss out on updates or unwittingly fall victim to cyber attackers. Conducting a network assessment is essential to the development of a cyber-security plan which should focus on:
- Prevention – Policies and procedures to reduce the risk of attacks
- Resolution – Plans, procedures, and resources that will be used to remedy a threat
- Restitution – How the organization will address the effects of a security threat
Always be on guard
Businesses must always be on guard to prevent or mitigate attacks such as phishing as soon as it happens. This is the attempt by hackers to obtain sensitive information, often for malicious reasons. Protection can be achieved by constantly testing, monitoring and improving security controls to reduce risk levels to data or equipment. Your organization’s IT department must closely monitor the network, including the use of removable media like USB drives, DVDs, and CDs which are likely to transfer malware from one device to another. By restricting and monitoring the use of such devices, your business will certainly survive any malicious attack.
Creating awareness is the most important aspect of online safety. Make sure that your employees know about threats, how to avoid them and most importantly what to do in the event of an attack. Accredited security consultants, managed service providers and web designers could offer much needed cyber safety education to your staff members for a fee. You might not like the idea of spending extra cash on such training but don’t ignore it as it could save you from technical breaches in the future.
Awareness training includes:
- Teaching your employees about good password practices.
- To back up their work.
- To report any strange occurrences.
- Not to ignore anything from sources they don’t know.
- Training employees allows them to make good judgments online which are essential for their safety and that of your customers.
Identity theft prevention
Hackers and other cybercriminals are capable of stealing your identity through the personal information you give online. Organizations must be very wary about sharing sensitive information lest it is taken and used to their disadvantage. Visit relevant authorities to report suspected identity theft or learn how to better protect yourself and your clients. It is good for businesses to stay in touch with customers on social media but be cautious about it. Discourage employees from sharing personal information and clearly define the limits on the information that can be distributed over social networks.
Report any attack
Should you fall victim to cyber-attacks, it is important to report them as opposed to sweeping things under the carpet. Businesses that report negative incidences stand a chance to recover any losses and hopefully ensure that attackers are brought to book. There isn’t a business that will enjoy continued success if they don’t protect themselves online. Attacks cause monetary losses, and credibility issues and eventually drive customers away from your business. This shouldn’t happen to you in the modern age when you can take deliberate measures to stop potential attackers in their tracks. Some businesses find it easier to work with an in-house team, but if you are looking to save some money, it is wise to work with service providers. These are experts with a clear understanding of possible threats and necessary measures to mitigate them.
Whether you own a small business or a larger organization, staying safe online is paramount. The steps you take to protect yourself could mean the difference between major losses and ultimate success.