4 Ways a CEO May Be Inviting a Cyber Criminal to Attack

Put these digital security tips into practice to safeguard your company's files.

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By Eric Basu • Sep 9, 2014 Originally published Aug 8, 2014

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In today's day and age, CEOs have their hands full, trying to ensure the safety of their businesses against cyber predators. With all of that energy and emphasis put into cyber security threats, it can be easy to overlook the smaller things that could be putting them and ultimately their company at risk.

Many of you may be taking risks without even knowing it. Here are four such examples:

Related: Why Security Should Be Top of Mind When Creating a Business

1. Too much Facebook birthday sharing.

In January, The Next Web reported that Facebook had 1.23 billion active monthly members, 757 million daily users and 945 million mobile users. The platform is the perfect gold mine for a cyber predator to access any information that would put you at risk.

To be more specific, your public Facebook account that discloses your complete name and date of birth could provide a cyber predator the tools to potentially obtain a Social Security number among other essential information to successfully infiltrate your business and personal accounts.

Related: The Risks of Business Travel in a Wired World (Infographic)

2. Wi-Fi vulnerabilities.

Imagine yourself away at a conference or business hotel where Wi-Fi is always available. Now, you, who had just been working online on your IPhone, IPad or laptop, have to catch a meeting. As you travel to the location, your device may as well, jumping from one connection to the next, as the settings are set to search and connect to each available network in range.

The risk manifests from this concept. Eventually your device, which contains crucial business information, may come across a shadow network, a system that is intended to look like any other public network except that it's monitored by a cyber predator. As your device connects automatically or you by mistake connect to this network, you unintentionally expose to a predator the business information that the device contained, giving him or her the opportunity to make a quick profit, without a high risk, at your company's expense.

Related: How to Create a Super Strong Password (Infographic)

3. Password perils.

Most people use passwords that are familiar to them and keep them in an easy to find place (often a piece of paper in their notebook or an unencrypted file on their computer or phone). This makes it easy for hackers to guess or steal their passwords.

There are many programs that will keep all of your passwords in one place in an encrypted format, and will generate new, random passwords for you. To avoid a hacker gaining access to your password-keeping program, however, be sure to use a password that you remember and don't write down anywhere, and that you change regularly.

This way you only have to remember one password. In addition, if your email program or other software programs allow it, always use dual-factor authentication. Dual-factor authentication means that in addition to entering your password you need to enter a one-use code that is sent to you in real time via your phone or sometimes, a token that you carry with you. This means that even if someone gets your password he or she still need one more piece of information to gain access to your information.

Related: Our Collective Mobile Security Blind Spot

4. Subverting smartphones.

The Washington Post reported in December that a year earlier, the FBI used a specially designed type of malicious software to gather information about a man named Mo, who had made a series of threats to detonate a series of bombs across the United States. The software would come as a link via email and had the ability to download files, emails and activate the device's camera as well as transmit all of the captured information if the recipient clicks the link.

The convenience that people gain from smartphones that have cameras, GPS and Wi-Fi could potentially used against them. Imagine if everything that you did was available to someone who wanted to harm you. Even if you have never broken the law or done anything unethical, the information that could be gathered could be use to steal your assets or besmirch your reputation.

So what should you do, when it seems like there can literally be a problem at every turn where you least expect? Just as you wash your hands before handling food, practice good cyber hygiene with these tips:.

a. On your Facebook account, remove the complete date of birth from public display.

b. Change the settings on an iPhone, IPad or laptop to wait for the authorization before connecting to a network or even turn off the Wi-Fi when it is not in use.

c. Use a complex password on every device you have that contains any information that completeliy identifies you as you or that could be used against you.

d. Keep your passwords safe in an encrypted password keeper.

e. Use dual-factor authentication for passwords.

f. To avoid malicious software, don't hit on any electronic link from an unknown source. A simple click can put your whole company at serious risk.

Related: The Internet of Things: New Threats Emerge in a Connected World

Eric Basu

CEO of Sentek Global

Eric Basu is the CEO of Sentek Global, a provider of government and commercial cybersecurity and information technology solutions. 

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