Cyber Security Tips for Cyber Monday and Beyond
With Cyber Monday coming November 27, a few key cyber security tips might be just what your small business needs to stay ahead of the ever-present threat of computer hacking and viruses that have become increasingly common. Businesses of all sizes can be vulnerable to cyber crime. In fact, hackers and other cyber thieves often target smaller businesses, assuming they're less protected than their larger counterparts.
But with proper vigilance and security software solutions, small business owners can feel confident knowing they are taking a proactive approach to defend against cyber crime. Here are some tips to keep in mind for Cyber Monday and beyond:
Stay updated on changing threats. It can be an ugly world in the cybersphere. Among the many security threats lurking out there, some include:
- Malware, a virus that replicates itself and spreads to other devices;
- Variations on malware, such as ghostware, blastware, and ransomware (in which your data is "held hostage" and the victim must pay to get data released back to them);
- Phishing schemes, which employ social engineering to fraudulently obtain passwords and other security information; and
- Networks compromised by vulnerabilities in mobile devices, public Wi-Fi, etc.
Institute and enforce a strict password policy. Password protection is the foremost line of defense when it comes to cyber security. It's essential that all employees (including the owner or CEO) use passwords that are lengthy, complex, and difficult to guess for all devices, and at all times. Company policy should indicate that no exceptions are permitted.
Provide ongoing employee training. Hackers often regard a company's employees as the "weak link" in their efforts to breach security systems. For this reason, ongoing cyber security training is strongly recommended (and should be a key element in the new employee onboarding process). Employees need to understand how a data breach that threatens their company’s data as well as their own private information, while on the job, can put everyone's job security at risk. Consider offering training that helps employees identify current and emerging threats, and provides guidance on steps to assist with a potential security breach mitigation.
Back up data. Backup of all pertinent company data should be conducted on a regular basis. You may even want to consider backing up sensitive data both in the cloud and on an external hard drive. This can sharply reduce the damage wrought by a successful data breach.
Adopt a hyper-awareness about cyber security. There's really no such thing as being too cautious about the sanctity of your computer data. Take action, whether it’s double-checking that you logged out of your computer when you step away from your desk, or changing your password periodically. Being proactive is the best approach to maintaining data security. A few more security tips to keep in mind:
- Advise your team to never share their passwords or other personal security data with anyone. Written passwords should always be locked out of sight.
- Scrutinize any suspicious-looking email and make sure the websites you visit have "https" in the beginning of the URLs, which indicates adherence to proper security protocols.
- Contact your IT department with any concern about a possibly fraudulent, virus-laden email attachment. It’s important that the recipient doesn’t open it.
Cyber Monday is a great time for businesses to leverage the freedom and convenience of online shopping. At the same time, it's a reminder to never let your guard down when it comes to protecting invaluable business information.