Businesses have to be extra alert to the variety of ways hackers can break into sensitive online data. This is increasingly necessary since customer data protection is a prime factor in business reputation management and customer confidence.
According to available statistics, small businesses are targeted in 50% of all cyber-attacks. This could be as a result of inadequate security measures which are uncommon in big businesses.
So what can be done to help improve your cyber security and protect your online privacy? It is as simple as establishing strong security protocols and habits, and making sure that these measures are strictly adhered to by all personnel.
- Ensure that all employees make use of a strong password: every employee must make use of a complex password that would be very difficult to decipher. The passwords should be a combination of alphanumeric characters, with a mix of lower and upper case letters, and punctuation marks. They should be at least eight characters long and must not match any existing personal passwords. It is also important to change the passwords regularly. By having a strict password policy, your business will be more likely to evade an attack.
- Back-up all sensitive files: there are cases where malicious parties hack into online data and remove or lock up files so that they cannot be accessed until the business pays a ransom. This is what is known as ransomware attack. By keeping a secure offline backup of all files, ransoming can be rendered ineffective to a reasonable extent. Regular back-up of all files on a remote server or hard drives is one security discipline that must be observed. Some independent cloud organizations, such as Iomart, also offer innovative solutions and disaster recovery services.
- Invest in strong anti-malware software: malware is any piece of software that is written with the sole purpose of doing harm to data, devices, or establishments. There are various forms of malware which include Trojans, viruses, ransomware, and spyware. Some malware are designed to feed on sensitive data so as to defraud the business or its customers. Obtaining a reliable anti-malware is not something to take lightly. Cost does not matter here as trying to save costs would be a typical case of false economy. See to it that all external hard drives, systems, and USB devices are fully scanned.
- Staff training: Cyber-security is the responsibility of every staff member. For instance, phishing is a form of malware attack which any employee can fall victim to. Fake emails, text messages, or even phone calls from malicious agents that seem genuine can lead to the release of sensitive files, which can be used to hurt the business or its customers. It is therefore important to continuously train staff on cyber-security, especially those who have admin clearance and who handle sensitive data. Also keep in mind that not every member of the business team should be given full access to certain data. This would help to maintain accountability. Access to certain databases, software applications, etc. should be restricted to only those employees who are responsible for them.