When using the internet, it is important to ensure you are doing your best to keep your personal data safe and secure. This is even more important when running a business, as you may also be protecting the data of other individuals and companies. Below are eight simple methods businesses can consider employing to improve the security of their systems and data.
Keeping software updated is important as it ensures you are running the latest version of the program, system or browser. Often, software updates can include patches for holes in security, which mend previous issues or vulnerabilities. Once hackers learn about the security issues in a piece of software, they are easier to exploit, thus if you are running an older version of the software, you could fall victim to an attack exploiting one of these security holes.
Penetration testing (also known as ethical hacking) involves testing the security of a system by identifying the most likely threats and exploiting the weaknesses found. Ethical hacking works to assist businesses in knowing how to improve the security of their company as it can help ensure the business is aware of the possible security breaches that could occur. Those employed in penetration testing use tools that are similar to ones that potential attackers might use if they were to attempt a security breach.
In this day and age, most people run some form of antivirus program on their computer, but sometimes antimalware is forgotten about. In general, the difference between the two programs is that antivirus is used to protect and prevent viruses, while antimalware is used for finding and removing viruses that are already on the device. Ensuring you have both antivirus and antimalware installed means your system has a better chance at remaining virus-free.
Backing up your data regularly is a great habit to get into – not only because it helps to protect your information from disappearing if there is a crash or error, but also because it can help if you fall victim to a ransomware attack. With ransomware, hackers will encrypt your data and ask for money to allow you to access it again. If you have a backup of this data then the joke’s on them! Automatic backups are simple to set up, and you can choose to either send your information to a physical device such as a USB or external hard drive, or to a digital cloud service.
Strong passwords are an important step to consider if you’re looking to beef up your cybersecurity. Generally, longer passwords (within reason) are stronger. A strong password should ideally be a string of numbers and letters arranged in a randomised order; not your pet’s name or even a clever acronym, but truly random. Having a different password for each separate password-protected log-in also boosts security. Just remember not to write your password down somewhere everyone can see it! If you’re struggling to remember your different passwords, lock them in a password manager that way you only need to remember one!
Speaking of passwords, another way to strengthen cybersecurity is to require password changes on a regular basis. The longer someone uses the same password, the more time there is for a person wishing to gain access to the account to guess it. Changing passwords regularly also protects the user from continued access by a hacker in the case that they have already learned your password (possibly without your knowledge) and are logging in to your account to gather further information over a long period of time.
Two-factor authentication means providing two different ways of proving who you are. Online, this is often achieved through entering your password, and then receiving a text on your phone with a code to confirm your identity. There are many different types of authentication, including credit card, phone, answer to a security question, or fingerprint. Authenticator apps such as Google Authenticator can also be used to set up two-factor authentication.
Even once cybersecurity measures have been employed, it is important to remain vigilant about the possibility of a security breach. Researching the latest scams, ransomware and security holes within the software used can help you identify potential threats and allow you to change your behaviour accordingly. Teaching staff about cybersecurity and methods to better identify threats (such as suspicious links sent via email) can also benefit a company’s security in the long term.
In today’s hyper-connected world, cybersecurity is something that should be high on a business’ priority list. While it can all seem a bit daunting and at times pretty scary, there are many methods that can be implemented and steps that can be taken to improve your company’s cybersecurity and provide the best chance at fighting off viruses and hackers.