These days, your business computer system faces many threats — malware and viruses alone aren’t the only things you have to worry about. Phishing attacks, social engineering, and password crackers all pose risks to the security of your system, and the safety of your business’s, your employees’, and your customers’ personal information.
By practicing good cyber hygiene, you can protect your business system from the many threats it faces. Cyber hygiene involves mitigating risks by implementing best security practices. Even without a dedicated IT security staff, you can protect your business by using strong passwords, implementing multiple levels of security, updating software regularly, and training your employees to resist social engineering attacks.
Use Strong Passwords
It might seem simple, but using strong passwords is a fundamental aspect of cyber hygiene, and one that many system users still struggle with. It’s all too common for users to create generic, easily-guessed passwords, like password123, often because they’re worried about remembering a complicated password. Even a more personal password, like the name of a child or pet, can be easily guessed by hackers who have access to yours or your employees’ social media feeds, or by software that can crack passwords in a matter of minutes.
Passwords are your business system’s first line of defense against hackers, so it’s important that you and your employees are using strong passwords to access the system, use password-protected apps, or open files that contain sensitive data. Use a password generator like LastPass to create and store secure passwords that can’t be easily guessed by password cracker software. Change your own password, and encourage employees to change theirs, at least every few months.
Keep Sensitive Info on a Need-to-Know Basis
Your business system may contain a wealth of sensitive information that could be valuable to hackers, including your employees’ personal info, customers’ payment info, and more. It’s worth considering whether you want everyone in your organization to have access to all of this info every time they log into the system. You may want to put sensitive info behind additional password protection, so that only those who need to access the info can get to it. This will mitigate your risk from insider threats, and it’ll also put an extra layer of security into your system so that a hacker won’t be able to access sensitive info with a random employee’s password. Limit administrative privileges to those who need them.
Update Software Regularly
Software updates keep your business system running smoothly, but they also keep hackers from gaining access to your system by addressing vulnerabilities in your code. Hackers learn to exploit flaws in operating systems and common apps in order to access systems surreptitiously, but software and device manufacturers release patches for these flaws as part of their regular software updates. Make sure you’re installing regular updates; automated updates are best for your system’s security. Stop using any software that’s no longer supported. Don’t forget to verify that your wireless router and smart devices on your network, such as security cameras and systems, thermostats, and smart TVs, receive regular software updates, too.
Train Your Staff
Today’s cyberthreats often use social engineering to attack systems at their weakest point — the human beings who use them. Social engineering attacks seek to manipulate users into falling victim to phishing attacks, giving up sensitive data voluntarily, or similar. You can protect your business system from these kinds of attacks by making sure you and your employees are aware of the threats they face and are educated in cybersecurity best practices.
Make sure new employees receive training in cybersecurity best practices, and make sure to refresh that knowledge regularly with additional trainings for all employees. Don’t leave yourself out of the loop; learn how to avoid phishing attacks, ransomware, and other cyberthreats by keeping private data private, avoiding suspicious links, backing up data regularly, using strong passwords, and more.
Cyber hygiene mitigates the risk posed by hackers to protect your business from a data breach that could destroy all you’ve built. By taking care to implement best security practices in your business, you can make sure that your business’s sensitive data is protected, so that you, your employees, and your customers can continue to benefit from the organization you’ve built for years to come.