Just within the past year, cyber-attacks have become a scary reality for practically every individual and organization. No matter who the individual victim, or what the size of the business or the organization's government stature, the looming threat of hackers on a mission to steal information is real.
And, as the frequency of cyber-attacks and data breaches grows, the failure to have a plan of counterattack for your company is no an option.
Instead, businesses must be prepared and responsible when it comes to protecting themselves from hackers. Here’s how:
Know the risks.
Properly protecting your company from a cyber-attack starts with a well-rounded understanding of the internal and external vulnerabilities your business faces when it comes to a hacker. You’ll want to have a finger on the ways in which a hacker can gain entry to your system by identifying points of weakness. The best way to do this is by getting informed about the various cyber fraud schemes and threats -- phishing, malware and system hacking -- that businesses face.
From bank routing digits to employee social security numbers, today’s hackers are on the hunt for standard company-held information that typically gets left lying around. For companies holding important data, be sure to take measures to always have this information encrypted. Keep your information safe by turning to full-disk encryption tools which come standard with most operating systems on. Switching the encryptions of these devices on shouldn’t take more than a minute and will encrypt every file on your drive without slowing it down.
Using this feature does require some added attention, though. This is because the encryption will only activate in scenarios a login is not in use. For hackers, this means that all they need is for an employee to take a brief break and head over to the office kitchen in order to attack a system with virus and malware. So, to enforce your measures, be sure to set your computers to automatically log out after five to ten minutes without use.
These measures to encrypt information are important to take because in the worst-case scenarios hackers have been known to steal this information and encrypt it themselves.
Be sure that your hardware is secured.
Not at all cyber-attacks come through a computer system. It’s an obvious truth, but the fact that most cyber-attacks occur when physical electronic equipment is stolen is one that is often overlooked. To make sure that no one walks away with loads of information stored on your office computers make sure your systems are physically locked down. Kensington lock ports are a small securing feature present on most laptops and desktops, they feature a small loop that keeps a device tethered down to a desk. Of course, they’re not entirely impossible for a thief to circumvent, but their presence will require more time and effort as they try to make an escape with your equipment. It might just be enough to deter them from stealing entirely.
Up your security efforts by making sure that employees keep server room doors closed and locked always. There are a few companies that secure servers with locks, make USB security keys and hardware-based encryption making the grab and go process for burglars even more difficult. What’s more, cloud computing software allows business to track down mobile laptops, devices and even desktops that are taken.
Embrace security as part of your company culture.
You can’t be the only one taking measures to keep your company’s and customers' information safe. Employees must be aware of the ways in which they themselves can put the company at risk. To keep them aware of possible cyber-attacks, make sure, in your role as leader, that your employees know to always keep their eyes peeled for potential threats and be aware of how to keep information safe.
Remember, hackers can seed their way to private information on email servers, apps and pop-ups. An employee's desk can be a minefield of hacking breaches.
Your first step in getting employees on board with cyber security is having a formal company internet policy specified for your business. Draw the line on what internet practices are prohibited within the office and on devices. If you’ve yet to issue a rule about which types of emails are okay to open on your devices and what type of attachments are okay to retrieve, talk to an IT specialist and draw up a set of rules.
Keep the threat of cyber-attacks on your employees’ minds by sending them brief emails about threats and having occasional meetings featuring information from an IT expert. The most effective way of preventing everyday hacks is to set a rule for employees that prevents them from accessing their personal email on your company’s wi-fi system.
As a business owner, you rarely think about the threat of cyber-attacks day-to-day, but when one happens to your businesses the result can be catastrophic. By making sure you have these basic security tips in place now, you can save yourself from a lot of preventable headaches down the line.