How to Protect Yourself From Cybersecurity Threats
By: Kayla Matthews on October 21, 2019
Cybersecurity threats are increasingly prevalent, particularly as businesses and their customers move more of their operations and activities to the digital realm. The bad news for enterprises is that the effects of cybersecurity problems can be costly and cause damage to a brand's reputation.
Being proactive is one of the best cybersecurity strategies you can adopt. Here are five tips:
1. Keep Everything Up to Date
Outdated software or hardware can make it easier for hackers to infiltrate your network. That's because older systems and versions often don't have the latest security patches installed. Some devices may be so old that it's impossible to update their security software anymore. In that case, it's time to retire them from service and invest in new ones.
One easy thing to do is have your IT team check for updates regularly. They can then install them as soon as new ones become available. Some programs make updates especially straightforward because they allow you to turn on an auto-update feature. Then, as long as a respective device has an internet connection through which to receive the update, there's no need to deal with manual installations.
2. Choose a Data Center Provider That Takes Security Seriously
When picking a data center for your business, you'd likely think about factors such as uptime, scalability and pricing. Those things are important, but security should be a factor of consideration, too. Data centers typically don't have lots of windows that could be entry points for security threats. However, things like cameras, fingerprint scanners or card readers could monitor for unauthorized access and keep people out when necessary.
You also need assurances that the selected data center provider has internal cybersecurity measures in place to prevent things like hacking attempts. Moreover, representatives from the data center should make you feel confident that its security measures are adaptable so that the enterprise won't get caught off guard as threats evolve.
Never feel like you need to rush into any agreement with a data center provider. If you feel uncertain about moving forward and settling on a provider, continue researching until the knowledge you gain brings a sense of ease that facilitates your decision-making.
3. Understand and Fix Your Weak Points
The fact that you're reading this is already a great sign. It means you're interested in doing something to reduce your risk of encountering cyberthreats. After all, you can't make meaningful changes without knowing where problems exist. Research indicates that 77% of businesses don't have formal cybersecurity incident plans in place.
It'll be much easier to craft one of those once you identify the parts of your infrastructure that are most appealing to hackers. Perhaps you lack the necessary network security tools, like firewalls and intrusion detection applications. In that case, you'll need to make some budgetary adjustments and see those purchases as investments that will pay for themselves over time.
Or, you might not have enough employees to handle all your cybersecurity needs. That's an especially prominent issue — a recent report showed that more than half of respondents believe their cybersecurity skills shortages cause problems. In this case, you may need to address the matter by upskilling current members of the IT team or hiring freelance cybersecurity experts to assist.
Once you know where your weaknesses are, you'll be in an excellent position to start conquering them. Changes won't happen immediately, but you can at least begin the process.
4. Educate Employees About the Latest Threats
If employees don't receive cybersecurity training, they could be unintentionally putting your company at risk. Consider launching a monthly lecture series that enables your IT team to give an overview of the newest cybersecurity attacks and methods.
It's also wise to coach employees to avoid taking rapid action if anything they encounter online seems suspicious. Cybercriminals often orchestrate attacks based on a sense of urgency. For example, they might create an official-looking email that insists a person needs to provide sensitive information right away to avoid missing a paycheck or getting locked out of a system.
Educate your employees to contact their boss directly by phone to verify an email's legitimacy. Then, they'll be less likely to fall for cybercriminals' tricks.
5. Implement Best Practices for Passwords
Getting everyone on the same page with creating strong passwords is another quick but effective cybersecurity tip for businesses. Research published by LastPass indicates that employees reuse passwords an average of 13 times. People in the media/advertising industries have the most passwords to manage — an astounding 97.
Besides encouraging employees to choose strong passwords and not reuse them, think about enabling two-factor authentication (2FA). Even if hackers get access to the email/password combinations that allow entry into business accounts, they would still need something else to log into the system. Usually, it's a code sent to someone's registered email account or phone.
You can do things to make it easier for your workers to remember passwords, too. For example, password managers may be useful, or you could investigate a single sign-on (SSO) option.
Practical Suggestions to Benefit Your Business
Cyberthreats can affect anyone, but they can be exceptionally severe at the company level. These five tips will help you minimize the risk of online security issues threatening your enterprise's productivity and profits.
About Kayla Matthews
Kayla Matthews writes about data centers and big data for several industry publications, including The Data Center Journal, Data Center Frontier and insideBIGDATA. To read more posts from Kayla, you can follower her personal tech blog at ProductivityBytes.com.