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Keeping Your Business Safe: Essential Cybersecurity Tips

Keeping Your Business Safe: Essential Cybersecurity Tips

Cyber experts believe that online security attacks will create $2 trillion in losses for businesses before 2019 is over. Cyber thieves are also estimated to hijack over 30 billion records by 2023. Almost all companies today rely on technology. These systems help collect, store and manage confidential transaction records and customer information. That’s why business leaders need a whole assortment of cybersecurity tips. These cybersecurity tips can help protect your records and data against theft or loss.

Cybersecurity for both small and large companies helps prevent scams, data loss due to human error and other problems that can compromise digital records.

If you’re ready to create a cybersecurity program for your company, keep reading. You’ll learn cybersecurity tips that you can put in motion today.

Cybersecurity Tips to Help Keep Your Business Safe

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It’s true that technology offers companies a chance to expand their markets and save on costs. Yet when companies rely on technology to store digital records, they become vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Let’s briefly discuss exactly what cybersecurity is.

What is Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is safeguarding networks, computers and other hand-held devices from being compromised. Often, hackers try to access sensitive information or destroy historic records.

Cyber threats are a continuing threat to consumers, employees and entire organizations. One threat to confidential information could completely shut your company down.

It is important to take measures to ensure your company is as safe as it can be.

1. Create a Cybersecurity Plan

The best way a company can protect itself from cybercrimes is to create a cybersecurity plan. These plans outline the ways a company will protect its networks and digital assets from online theft.

A cybersecurity plan also describes your company’s obligations for protecting other proprietary assets as well. They can also include guidance on acceptable uses.

Cybersecurity plans are a great preventative measure to help you recognize and prevent any threats before they occur.

2. Cybersecurity Planning Templates

There are many public and private organizations that share resources free of charge. The Federal Communications Commission created the Cyber Security Planning Guide.

This guide helps companies create cybersecurity plans. It also contains policy templates. You can customize these templates to fit your individual company’s needs.

The SANS Institute of Philadelphia is a cooperative research organization. They provide resources for information security policy development, training, and certification.

The SANS Institute provides free research documents on all matters affecting information security. You can find cybersecurity templates and policy tools on their website.

3. Train Staff on Your Company’s Cyber Security Plan

Train your team and other staff members who work on your cybersecurity plan. Coach them on their role in protecting sensitive digital assets. Train them on measures to take before and during a cyber-attack.

You can find cybersecurity training sources from the Department of Homeland Security. Look for their National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies website. This site offers over 1000 cybersecurity training courses throughout the U.S.

4. Protocols for Mobile Devices

Some companies distribute mobile devices (i.e., laptops, phones) to their staff. If you’re one of these companies, be sure any employees who use these devices download cybersecurity software.

This software will protect their data when they use public networks. These devices should also have password-protections set up. Develop procedures for reporting any stolen or lost mobile devices.

5. Create User Accounts That Limit Access to Your Company Systems

Each employee who has access to your company’s digital records should have an individual user account. This rule tip applies to contractors as well.

Your team should only have access to the networks that they need to do their jobs. Be sure to lock up or store company laptops or mobile equipment when they aren’t in use.

6. Authentication and Passwords

Make an effort to ensure that your staff has their own strong password. Tell them that they are responsible for updating in three-month intervals. Mount a multi-factor authentication system that demands information beyond passwords to log in.

7. Get a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate that Establishes Online Credentials

SSL certificates confirm a website’s identity. These certificates can help you scramble data into unreadable formats. Then your system returns them to an understandable format with a decryption key.

8. Assign a Cyber Security Officer

Your cybersecurity professional can put your cybersecurity measures into action. These professionals can be your trusted source to install cybersecurity products.

These products can include anti-virus software or firewalls. They are also trained to respond to alerts and classify attacks.

Cybersecurity officers usually report to someone outside of a company’s IT division. This reporting structure ensures that the security officer can maintain a level of independence.

9. Install Software Updates on all Networks and Computers

Install current security software on your web browser. This software protects your data from viruses, malware or other cyber-attacks.

After each system update, be sure to scan these systems. Use updated antivirus software to confirm that your records are secure.

10. Verify Your Firewall Security

Activate your firewall system so that cybercriminals can’t access your network. Make sure you install firewalls on all computer devices your employees use to work on at home as well. You can find free firewall software online and available to download.

11. Protect Your Wi-Fi Network

Safeguard any of your company’s Wi-Fi networks by keeping it hidden or encrypted. Use a Service Set Identifier (SSID) function on your network’s router to hide your Wi-Fi. You can protect your router from unauthorized use with a password.

12. Create Backup Copies of Critical Business Information

Create schedules for regular data backups for all your company’s computers. This means backing up documents like account receivable/payable records.

You should also backup spreadsheets and other human resource files. Preserve these backup files in either offsite storage or in the cloud.

Variations of Cyber Threats

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Cybercriminals find ways to launch new cyber attacks every day. Yet, there is still a list of common methods for attacking a company’s data. These forms of cyber threats:

Drive-by Downloads

A drive-by download comes from a malicious website. This threat will try to install software on your computer without asking for your permission.

This could happen if you don’t have any cybersecurity systems in place. Drive-by downloads will also happen if you are using an outdated operating system.

Drive-by-downloads use bits of code that can penetrate your security firewalls and go unnoticed. Drive-by downloads will contact other systems. That’s when they’ll try and introduce the codes it needs to access other devices.

Phishing

Phishing continues to be a major form of cyber theft of personal information. Phishing has stolen more than $5 billion dollars both in the U.S. and in foreign markets within the last four years. Approximately 7,700 organizations become infected by this scam every month.

Email phishing is a form of cyberattack that steals an online user’s data. This data might include their credit card numbers and login credentials.

Cyberattackers then portray themselves as trusted entities. They persuade victims to open text messages or emails.

These emails often compel users to click on a link or open an attachment. These attachments contain malicious code. Once a user accepts and downloads the code, the computer becomes infected with malware.

Ransomware

Ransomware is malicious software. It restricts and infects access to systems. Access isn’t released until users pay a random fee or ransom amount.

Users receive instructions on how to pay off the ransom. Then they receive a decryption code to unlock their computer. These fees will range anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.

Although there are other methods of delivery, ransomware travels through phishing emails. It exploits vulnerabilities found in software.

There is no rhyme or reason why certain organizations receive ransomware. Medical facilities and government offices receive the most ransomware. This may be because these organizations rely on immediate access to their records.

Watering Holes

Watering holes are legitimate websites seized by cybercriminals. They create malicious websites without the original website owner’s knowledge. These sites will try to install malware onto a device.

To install this malware on your own website, you must give them access to your system. This access can include downloading files or clicking on links. Sometimes users give away other personal information like passwords.

These cyber attackers soon learn which websites you visit. Once they know this, they’ll infect these sites with viruses.

Why is Cybersecurity Important?

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A cybersecurity program lets organizations create a uniform approach to protecting their infrastructure. This is especially true if industry regulations dictate how to protect sensitive records.

Cybersecurity helps companies protect specific categories of information. If a business fails to protect these specific categories, they could face regulatory penalties and fines. These specific categories include:

Availability

“Availability” means keeping your services available to customers when they need it. “Availability” doesn’t only apply to lost or destroyed data. It also applies to ensuring data is accessible.

Confidentiality

Other cybersecurity tips include restricting access to data to authorized members. Maintaining data confidentiality ensures that confidential information doesn’t land with dishonest organizations. To protect against this, only authorized individuals should have access.

Some approaches that comply with confidentiality that we discussed before include two-factor authentication. Other methods include using stronger passwords or encryption. Another helpful safeguard is to have individual user IDs.

Reliability

Maintaining “reliability” means keeping sensitive data accurate. Protect sensitive records from intentional or accidental changes that could damage authenticity.

Another cyber trick is to have file access permissions for selected employees. This selective access also helps protect reliability. Your ultimate goal is to have a top-notch reputation for safeguarding your data within these three categories.

Clients want to be able to trust that you will protect the confidentiality of their private data. Failure to recognize or plan for cybercrimes could diminish customer trust. This will can only strike a blow to your bottom line.

Contact a Cyber Security Advisor (CSAs)

CSAs are employees with the Federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS.) They can provide cybersecurity guidance to help protect small and mid-sized organizations.

CSA’s also provide in-person meetings. Invite them to your organization if you want them to address concerns or answer questions on the latest in cyber threats.

The CSA can also test your current cybersecurity practices. They will offer advice or best practices where you might improve. To find out more, contact your regional DHS office at cyberadvisor@hq.dhs.gov to set an appointment.

Next Steps

  1. Sit down with your company’s senior leadership soon. You’ll need their support to put these cybersecurity tips in motion. Show how these cyberattacks can threaten the reputation your company worked so hard to earn.
  2. Review the planning guide and templates from the Federal Communications Commission. Use these to start drafting your cybersecurity plan today.
  3. Appoint a cybersecurity officer right away. Their first tasks are to install security software and establish alerts to classify attacks.
  4. When your cybersecurity plan is in place, schedule a staff meeting. These conversations should cover correct protocols to follow during and after a security breach.
  5. You should also guide them on the procedures for reporting lost or stolen mobile devices. Schedule training seminars so they can earn how to use security software updates.

For more helpful information, be sure to check our website for more advice on recognizing and reducing technology risks. You can also contact our cybersecurity experts at 913-270-6769 to discuss how your business can be more secure. Cybersecurity is a modern-day necessity for any business owner who plans to use a digital environment. Put these cyber security tips in place today so that you aren’t tomorrow’s latest cyber victim.

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