Since every business is a potential target among hackers, it’s important to have cybersecurity strategies based on a set of proven principles. Not only is it essential for a business to protect its own proprietary trade secrets, but it must also take responsibility for protecting the privacy of its customers, employees, and partners as well.
No longer can a serious business get away with downplaying cybersecurity. Every business must develop a high level of awareness that cybercriminals actively target firms of all sizes in an effort to steal information. Many of these thieves then sell the information to other criminals on the dark web. Overcoming the challenges created by cybercrime can be achieved by following five powerful rules on data protection.
1. Keep Your Confidential Data Offline
The most confidential information about a company should not exist in digital form within the company’s business network so that it’s out of reach from hackers. Following a descriptive data security guide will help raise awareness about what type of company information can be securely stored on servers. Keeping data completely offline is the best way to protect it from getting into the wrong hands.
At the core of data protection is risk management, in which operators can minimize risks in multiple ways. A company can strengthen risk management by setting a cybersecurity policy on what type of company data can be accessed and downloaded to mobile devices. The best way to minimize risk to zero when it comes to protecting valuable secrets is to keep them off the internet completely because even the most sophisticated cybersecurity can be compromised.
2. Check a Website’s Reliability
Staying away from sketchy websites that don’t offer useful content is one of the best overall ways to avoid clicking sites with nefarious links. An individual could face considerable legal trouble by spending time on a site full of links that violate copyright laws. Other bad links could be deceptive and unleash malware.
One way to determine website reliability is to consider how well established the business is. Reputable organizations tend to be associated with traditional institutions that have gained trust over the decades. See if the site is listed with the Better Business Bureau.
Another clue on whether the site is credible is if it presents any type of expertise. Does it offer useful and original information or does it just seem to deliver generic content duplicated from another site? The most authoritative sites that search engines tend to give high rankings provide users with deep rich content.
The site Scamadviser.com lets the user enter a website and get a safety rating on the site compiled from algorithms that track user feedback, site transparency based on location, and other factors. Many well-known sites get scores of 100, whereas lesser-known sites commonly get scores around 75, which is still considered safe. Meanwhile, using a traffic-monitoring site like Alexa.com can reveal how much traffic any particular website gets.
3. Suspicious Online Links
Staff members should be trained to watch out for suspicious links that could unleash malware or ransomware. These links are commonly displayed in phishing scheme emails in which the hacker is taking on a fake identity with a friendly offer to click a link for access to free prizes. Hackers often spoof popular brands in their email URLs, but with a missing character or extra dash. Workers should beware of short or long URLs with unusual character strings.
Links can be inspected visually and with software tools. The important point to remember is that phishing schemes that trick employees are how most cybersecurity breaches occur. Businesses that don’t prioritize cybersecurity should understand that hackers particularly target companies that rely on old hardware and software, which is more vulnerable to security flaws. Hackers know that companies that use old systems likely don’t think much about making data backups, making them even more vulnerable should the hacker launch a full-scale ransomware attack.
4. Use Cybersecurity Software
Choosing the right cybersecurity software is crucial for data protection. No longer is antivirus software itself a sufficient solution, as businesses must protect their digital assets with multiple security layers. These various layers include 24/7 data monitoring software, virtualization in which various systems are stacked on a virtual server, and firewalls that can be used to enforce cybersecurity policies. Reviewing a list of the top cybersecurity solutions will help you shape a multilayered cybersecurity plan.
5. Keep Personal Information Professional and Limited
Sharing too much personal information online can be a mistake, as criminals can now easily research individuals online with the help of social media platforms. Sometimes people get casual and careless about sharing certain personal data that might play into answers to security questions. When a person reveals their mother’s maiden name, for example, on social media, they’re helping hackers who try to collect as much personal data any way they can, hence it is important to protect online privacy.
Business accounts should be set up to store minimal personal data, such as an address, phone number, and other contact information. Storing confidential financial data creates responsibilities that ensure data protection for the private parties involved. Despite the growing talk about big data, the less data your company collects on customers, employees, and partners, the less chance of damage caused by cybercriminals.
The notion of keeping data-limited extends to employees regarding passwords for their accounts. They should never share their password with anyone to ensure it remains a secret. The problem with storing too much confidential financial data is that no network is 100 percent safe from external forces trying to penetrate the system. Minimizing data collection is a form of risk management that helps limit the damage caused by hackers.
Following these five safety rules will help you establish your own cybersecurity policy. It’s important to use software that lets you control which devices are allowed on your network. Each business must craft its own policy and set of cybersecurity layers to protect its operations. Hospitals, financial institutions, and law firms must comply with specific federal laws. Other businesses need to ensure data privacy simply to maintain a reputation for caring about customers.