5 Easy Ways To Protect Your Business From Cyber-Crime
Are you relying on good luck or a wing and a prayer to protect yourself from cyber-crime and internet risks? Below are some online security tips your business can use to protect itself. After all, you don’t know when your luck will run out!
# 1: Set Up Two-factor Authentication
Set up two-factor authentication for all your online accounts and devices.
Hackers are clever; the right person could hack nearly any online account or device. Enabling two-factor authentication on your laptop, phone, email account and on each app you use is a straightforward way to add extra security.
Two-factor authentication ensures that anybody attempting to access an online account is who they say they are. The way it typically works is:-
- Firstly, you enter your username and password as normal
- Then, rather than gaining immediate access, a second level of verification is needed. This second level of approval could be via
- An additional PIN to enter
- A secret question to answer
- A code sent to your phone or email
- Approval on an authenticator app
The theory is that even if your device was stolen and your password compromised, the hacker isn’t going to know or have access to this extra information.
And yes, I know it can be annoying to have to verify everything on your phone or via email. But not as irritating as losing all your data or, worse, all your money.
# 2: Use A Password Manager
Personally, I use LastPass, but I recently purchased Norton anti-virus (See also tip 4 about anti-viruses), and noticed it contains a free password manager.
Most of us understand that we shouldn’t use our children’s names, date of birth, 12345 or ‘password’ as your password. That your password should be unique for each site and consist of a number, letters (capitals and small case), and symbols in a complex random order.
We all understand the theory, but the challenge is when we use so many apps every day, how do you remember these random passwords? The simple answer is unless you have a photographic memory, you can’t.
So, instead of following what we know would be the safe way of working, we continue to use a weak password, write them on post-it notes or have a file called passwords (don’t laugh; I have seen it!)
This is where password managers help, as they store all your login information for all the websites you use in one place. When you log into a website or app, the password manager automatically populates the password fields. So you can still have a complicated password but don’t need to remember it. The only password you need to remember is the one to your password manager tool.
# 3: Connect To A VPN
Have you ever sent an email while you’re in a queue for your morning coffee, Or when you access your bank account on the train doing your daily commute – you may as well use the time wisely, right!
If you’re relying upon an unprotected public Wi-Fi network for your connection, be careful. The cyber-savvy stranger opposite you on his laptop could be eavesdropping.
A Virtual Private Network (or VPN) helps safeguard your online activities by hiding your personal information when you access the internet. This means you can check your bank account, shop online, and even send confidential emails without the fear of the data being compromised.
Bonus Tip: If you outsource your work to a virtual assistant or virtual business manager, one of the first questions you should ask is if they use a VPN.
# 4: Routinely Update Anti-virus And Anti-malware Software
We all do it; our anti-virus sends a pop-up reminding us we need to update, but what do we do? We press ‘later.’
Software providers are regularly developing updates (called patches) to take care of any weaknesses or threats as they emerge. However, these updates can’t work unless you apply them. To increase your protection from cyber-attacks, it’s essential your anti-virus/anti-malware are the most up-to-date versions.
# 5: Shop Securely Online.
The simplest way to ensure an online purchase is ‘uneventful’ is to make sure the website you’re buying from is safe and secure. Look out for the lock symbol in the toolbar. Plus, the website starts with “HTTPS” in the address bar before tapping in all your credit card or bank details.
Do You Think Cyber-crime Won’t Happen To You?
That it only happens to big businesses?
This is no longer true. Big corporations spend billions on their IT security as they cannot risk the bad reputation from a significant data breach. Hackers are therefore increasingly targeting mid to small-size businesses. They are easier to hack because small companies are generally under-protected or do not understand what is needed to safeguard their technology.
Questions To Ask Yourself
- Do you have a website? Perhaps even an online store where you take payments? Are they safe for those visiting your site?
- How much personal information do you keep digitally on your clients, suppliers or contacts? Is that information stored safely?
- Think of how many documents you downloaded, emails you signed up for or forms you completed this week. Were they all from reputable sites?
- How many emails do you send or receive every day? Do any of them contain personal information?
- If you are storing information in the cloud, who can access it, and what safety measures do you have in place?
- What about your social media posts? Are they secure and safe? Or are you giving out information a hacker could use to get into your accounts?
If any of the above applies to you, you need to consider how you protect your technology, business data and personal information. If you are unsure where to start, then get in touch I would be happy to talk you through some of these quick.