Making sure your business has systems in place to withstand cyberattacks is one of the most important actions you need to do. As a business owner, you have an obligation to protect your company’s sensitive information, as well as your clients’ information.
The Equifax data breach of 2017 exposed the personal data of millions of people. As a result, Equifax had to pay $700 million in settlement fees. This is just one of many unfortunate examples. Smaller businesses may be even easier targets, which is why it’s very important to have a solid cybersecurity strategy in place.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are 6 tips to help you increase your company’s cybersecurity to protect your business.
- Use Secure Passwords and Multi-factor Authentication
Not only should you have a strong password to sign into the various platforms and software that your business uses, it’s also good practice to change those passwords regularly and use multi-factor authentication.
Longer passwords are better—at least 8 characters, with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Passwords can be hacked with automated software that tries every possible combination, so the longer your password is, the more combinations it has to try.
Multi-factor authentication is when you need a password and an additional step. It’s also called two-step verification. This reduces the likelihood of a successful attack because additional information is needed to login. Typically, this is a code sent to the user’s cell phone, or a code generated by a two-factor authentication (2FA) app such as Authy.
You can use a password manager to manage the various passwords for your accounts, so you’re not reusing the same one, or having to try and remember all the passwords you have for all your accounts. If one account gets hacked, then any other account using the same password can also more easily get hacked. And whatever you do, avoid using the word “password” as your password at all costs.
There are many password manger options. Some are:
- Secure Your Wi-Fi Network
Make sure your Wi-Fi is secure and hidden. While your router typically comes with a pre-set password, make sure to change it immediately to something more secure. Additionally, if you offer free Wi-Fi to your guests, create a separate guest network with a different password, so they don’t have access to your company’s network.
You’re ultimately responsible for what people do on your network. By securing your guest network with a password, you can control who has access to it and make sure you’re not opening up your business to considerable risks.
Also check that encryption is enabled on your router. Encryption provides data security for sensitive information, and enabling it scrambles plain text that’s sent or stored on the web into unreadable, or “cipher text.” Once it’s sent to the end user, the text is unscrambled, or decrypted.
If you’re out of the office or in a public area, avoid using the free Wi-Fi network. As tempting as it may be to check your email at the airport, there are a lot of potential risks that come with a free public network, such as opening yourself up to hackers. Look for a network that’s secured with a strong password, and if you can’t find one and absolutely need to hop online, use your phone as a temporarily private hotspot.
- Backup Your Data Regularly
If your system gets hacked, not only will others gain access to sensitive information, but you may lose access to your own data. Backing up your data regularly to the cloud will still give you access to it if anything happens.
Ransomware attacks happen by locking you out of your data and preventing access until you pay a ransom fee. If you have a recent copy of your data, you don’t need to worry about getting that information back. How often you backup your data depends on your business and how much information you’re storing. At the very least, you should back it up after any important task has been completed.
Some backup service options are:
- Create Separate User Accounts for Each Team Member
As much as you’d love to retain your team members for as long as possible, the time will sometimes come for them to move on. Hopefully that’s on good terms, but in case it’s not, it’s always safer to make sure you can easily delete their individual user accounts.
Having separate user accounts also helps keep track of version history, or who makes changes to what. If anything ever happens to your files or data, you’ll be able to track who the last person to make the changes was so you can restore the files. Make sure that when your employees are setting up their user accounts, they understand how to set up a strong password.
- Encrypt Any Data Sent Via Email
Cybersecurity training should be part of any new employee onboarding. This includes training employees on the types of data to send or not to send through email. Any sensitive information, such as login information and passwords, credit card information, or social security information, should never be sent through email.
Tools such as Enigmail are useful security tools to encrypt your email. Never email any confidential information to anyone via email. Passwords can be sent through software such as LastPass. The same way you wouldn’t want to send sensitive information on a postcard for everyone to see, you should be very cautious about what you send through email in case you get hacked.
- Implement Anti-Virus Software and Firewalls
Anti-virus software and firewalls block malicious software from getting into and infecting your computer. They guard your system from any suspicious activity or users trying to make contact with it. It’s like a security guard, making sure only the people on your approved list are let in.
VPNs mask your identity on the internet and protect your location and online activities. A VPN is like a middleman—when you go to a site, the site sees the VPN’s IP address, not your own personal IP address. You get what you pay for, so it’s a good idea to pay for a VPN service instead of going with a free one. A decent VPN can cost you between $5-$12 per month, which is a small price to pay for added security.
Anti-virus software can protect your computer from things like spyware, adware, or trojan horses. Firewalls, on the other hand, protect your network from suspicious traffic. Together, you have the best chance of fighting cyberattacks from various angles.
A few anti-virus software options are:
- Total AV
If you don’t already have a cybersecurity strategy in place, now’s the time to implement one. Take a look at the systems you have and get a sense of what needs to be done to protect them from all angles, whether that’s using two-factor authentication, backing up your data regularly, using a VPN, implementing anti-virus software, or encrypting any sensitive information sent over email.
It’s your job as a business owner to protect your company and its assets from cyberattacks. Putting in the work now and having the proper tools to build resilience to threats will definitely pay off.
Do you feel like your business has plateaued or you are sick and tired of being sick and tired? Could you use a shot in the arm to make even more progress on your goals? Consider working with The Accountability Coach. I’m here to help you accelerate your results, so you can enjoy your ideal business and ideal life! Reach out today for your complimentary consultation.
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