Even though cybersecurity is a common term, the definition can be a little murky for those who are not regularly in the information technology space. Simply put, cybersecurity is the protection of computer systems and networks. For companies that manage client data on top of their own, taking measures to protect your business is critical.
Cyberattacks can include phishing emails, computer viruses, malware and more. Regardless of the type of breach that occurs, the implications can be devastating to your business. In addition to the potential monetary loss, the reputation of your business could be severely damaged, impacting your relationship with current and potential clients.
While there are too many cybersecurity practices to name in one article, here are some of the best ways to protect your business.
1. Update and strengthen your passwords.
Frequently changing your passwords is one of the simplest ways to keep your data safe. The longer you use the same password, the more likely someone will figure it out and hack into your account. We recommend changing passwords every three to four months. In addition to regularly updating passwords, it’s important to prioritize the strength of your passwords. Adding various characters (upper and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols, etc.) and avoiding familiar patterns (your name, birthday, numbers in sequence, etc.) will greatly increase the level of security.
2. Establish controls to verify outgoing payments.
Emails are a great way to communicate. However, there can be major implications if fraudsters hack into the email of someone within your company. Fraudsters may attempt to divert funds into a fraudulent account by impersonating the compromised email owner and sending an email requesting to change the account number for payroll or invoices. Make sure you establish a control in place to verbally verify such changes using a known phone number, not what is listed in an email.
3. Add blocks to work devices.
Most people have probably had the urge to check out or share social media posts while using a work computer. As harmless as this may seem, there are risks in doing so on any work-related device. The sites that are linked to shared content can contain malware (software designed to damage or gain access to computer systems), adware (a form of malware that hides on your device and serves you ads) or computer viruses. If accessed on a work computer, these issues could not only affect the data on the individual device, but the entire company network. Blocking social media and other similar sites so employees cannot access them will help prevent this.
4. Back up your data.
Proper data backups are an important strategy to help your business avoid ransomware, where a hacker holds your data hostage in exchange for a sum of money. Backing up data means copying your data from its primary location to a secondary location and should be completed regularly. In the event of a cyberattack, this could save your business from additional expenses and negative impacts to customer service. While it may take some discipline, scheduling and conducting frequent data backups can go a long way in protecting your business from attack.
5. Use multi-factor authentication.
Multi-factor authentication is an extra layer of security that helps protect your data from password breaches. Also referred to as two-factor authentication, users are required to input a second piece of evidence when logging in to company accounts. Some examples of this second round of authentication include a text, phone call, touch ID and bypass codes. This added step helps to confirm the user is the authorized employee and not someone outside your organization. It also makes it more difficult for hackers to crack passwords and access your secure information.
We hope that these best practices will help guide you as you take your business’ security to the next level. You can learn even more about cybersecurity from these sources: Southside Bank Fraud Prevention, United States Secret Service, FBI, Department of Homeland Security and Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency.