From ransomware and phishing to IoT attacks, the number of online threats is businesses face daily is alarmingly high. Implementing safer practices and protecting company devices can make a huge difference in tackling security challenges.
Simple adjustments in your security framework like adopting healthier password habits, regularly updating your software, and educating your staff on cybersecurity safety protocols are excellent ways for setting your company up for success.
To help you protect your business from online threats, we came up with a list of practices you should follow and educate your staff about.
Foster A Healthy Password Hygiene
Poor password hygiene is a common security issue many businesses face. In fact, even top-level executives use weak and predictable passwords like “12345”, “qwerty,” and “password.”
Additionally, 65% reuse their credentials across several accounts even though they know it’s bad practice. It’s especially risky if your employees use the same passwords to protect their personal and business accounts.
By reusing passwords, one leaked credential can give hackers access to multiple business accounts, and it can severely jeopardize your company’s data. To ensure your employees use secure and reliable passwords, introduce them to the following practices:
- Passwords should be at least fifteen characters long
- They shouldn’t include any personal information like important dates or names
- They shouldn’t contain dictionary words (e.g., apple, house, car)
- They should consist of numbers, letters, and symbols
Also, one of the riskiest practices people tend to overlook is unsafe password sharing. The rule of thumb is to avoid giving anyone access to your accounts, but if there isn’t a way of getting past it, ensure your employees are familiar with safe sharing practices.
For instance, the safest way is to use a sharing option on your password manager. If you don’t use a password manager, share credentials via encrypted messenger apps like Signal and delete them as soon as another person gets your message. Avoid writing them down on sticky notes or keeping them on company devices at all costs.
Switch To A Password Manager
According to a DataProt study, 90% of users worry that their passwords may get hacked, while 53% rely exclusively on their memory to store passwords. Since human memory tends to be flawed, we’re likely to forget a password we’ve created in a matter of minutes.
Therefore, if you want to take the password creation burden off your staff’s shoulders and make the job easier for your IT team, consider switching to a password manager.
A good password manager will help your employees generate highly secure and unique credentials for each account and safely store them in an encrypted vault. If you want total control over your company’s credentials, choose a local password manager.
Password managers are a common cyberattack target, but local ones are much harder to break into. However, password managers that store data in the cloud can give you remote access to your company’s credentials, and even if some of your employees lose their devices, they’ll be able to restore their passwords.
Organize Cybersecurity Awareness Training
Implementing new security tools and methods isn’t enough to protect your sensitive data from attacks. Employees are often unaware of the potential threats they face and which practices can cause data leakage.
The first step should be to estimate the level of risk you’re exposed to and which teams are the most vulnerable. Remember that some teams like finance may need more in-depth training than the rest of the company, so the best option would be to hand the training over to a cybersecurity expert.
Cybersecurity awareness training should be organized every four to six months or whenever you implement a new method that significantly affects your security protocols.
Use A Multi-factor Authentication
According to a Statista survey, more than half of respondents stated that their companies have been using multi-factor authentication (MFA), with the majority of them relying on authenticator apps as their third level of protection alongside standard passwords and biometrics.
Multi-factor authentication grants users access to their accounts based on three verification mechanisms – things you know (passwords and PINs), things you are (biometrics like face scan or fingerprint), and things you own (tokens, cards, devices).
MFA is based on the idea that a hacker would have to obtain all three authentication factors to break into the account successfully.
Since every MFA tool alerts users when someone tries to penetrate the first level of protection and urges them to promptly change their credentials, it’s highly unlikely that the hacker will manage to steal your valuable data.
Encrypt Your Sensitive Data
Encryption is slowly becoming synonymous with data protection. According to the World in Data Breaches Report conducted by Varonis, seven million unencrypted pieces of data get compromised every day.
To reduce your risks of getting hacked, start encrypting your sensitive company information. Firstly, invest in a virtual private network (VPN) to protect your data in traffic.
This way, your data will travel through an encrypted tunnel, shielding you from eavesdroppers looking to intercept and steal your data. Secondly, if you store sensitive information on company devices, make sure you’re encrypting your hard drives.
Microsoft has a full disk encryption feature embedded into Windows called BitLocker, while Mac users can protect their data with FileVault.
Lastly, if you use messenger apps for communication with clients and teams, make sure you’re using encrypted apps like Signal to ensure every bit of data stays safe and sound.
Invest In A Good Antimalware
Antimalware software is one of the cybersecurity pioneers. Since companies are looking for new technologies they can implement into their cybersecurity strategies, antimalware often gets overlooked.
However, reliable antimalware can prevent the most well-known cyberattacks by scanning all the incoming data and preventing malicious software from being installed on your device.
Essential factors to consider when looking for antimalware are what type of protection your company needs and how easy it is to implement it into your cybersecurity strategy.
If you’re dealing with highly sensitive data on a daily basis, you’ll want to make sure your antimalware is up to the task. Also, if you know your staff isn’t tech-savvy, choose antimalware that’s easy to use and manage.
Keep in mind that every antimalware software needs regular updates to work properly. The best way to ensure your data is always protected is to schedule regular automatic updates so that your security doesn’t depend on your staff’s manual updates.
A sturdy cybersecurity strategy must be tailored to your company’s specific needs and correspond to the level of risk you’re exposed to. Whenever you’re changing your business approaches and implementing new tools, your cybersecurity strategy has to keep pace.
Since the success of your security framework depends mainly on your employees, ensure regular training sessions and update them on changes you make. Also, keep an open conversation with them and ask for their opinion on which security solutions would benefit them.
If you’re unsure what tools and strategies to implement, reach out to an expert for advice because cybersecurity strategy isn’t something you want to DIY.
Lastly, don’t get overwhelmed by the sheer number of threats you read about online. Assess which threats you’re exposed to, and implement one security tool at a time.