Citizens are running in terror. Balls of fire are raining down from the heavens. You rush to the grocery store and battle an old lady for the last box of Twinkies.
Ok, we might be exaggerating just a tad bit. While the consequences of a data hack don’t quite reach apocalyptic proportions, they can be extensive. Massive downtime, data corruption, legal ramifications, reputation bruising, employee turnover, widespread zombie outbreak. Maybe not the last one, but you get the idea.
If you’re a thriving company, or really any company of any size, we’re guessing you want to avoid all of the above, and who can blame you? But does your business really have a fighting chance against the big, bad hackers waiting around every virtual corner? As the threats of cyber attackers and malicious software rapidly increase, it may seem like there’s no hope for your business. But nothing could be further from the truth.
An increase in cyber threats doesn’t mean all data security efforts are futile. What it does mean is that your business needs to get smarter about protecting its critical data and applications. We’re laying out tips for training your employees on data security best practices and securing your data.
1) Buff up passwords
Right now, one or more of your employees (or even you) is using the password “123456” or “password” to log into your work accounts. Don’t believe it? In 2015, SplashData compiled a list of 2 million passwords leaked in just that year and these two passwords topped the list along with “qwerty,” “football” and “baseball.”
We know these passwords are frequently used, and you can bet hackers do too. In fact, they use special programs to crack passwords, and guess what they start with? Yup, these common passwords. These passwords aren’t difficult to crack and may be the only thing standing between cyber attackers and your sensitive business data.
Don’t make a hacker’s job easier for them. Make sure your business is following password best practices by having employees update all passwords to stronger passwords. What does a stronger password look like? Think longer, more difficult passwords featuring letters, numbers and symbols. Yes, hackers can still get past these passwords if other lines of defense aren’t in place. But they’ll have more trouble cracking them, giving you and your employees more time to reset passwords once a hack is discovered.
2) Update everything
No one looks forward to seeing the dreaded pop-up update window. It interrupts your thought process. It stares at you accusingly asking, why didn’t you update me sooner? And, if you or your employees are working towards a tight deadline, it’s oh so tempting to hit “Remind me later” and avoid updating and resetting the computer or device.
But developers and software providers aren’t rolling out these updates and patches because they’re bored and have nothing better to do. There’s a reason these operating system and security software updates are introduced. They offer fixes to known security vulnerabilities and keep employees’ computers running smoothly. Essentially, they are just one more wave of defense against all those cyber attackers out there.
It can be a challenge to convince employees of the importance of updating their systems on a regular basis, but it’s essential to keeping your data secure. Clearly state what’s at stake if employees don’t update their computers. And, if the majority of your employees works remotely on personal devices, ask them to keep their smartphones, tablets or personal computers updated.
3) Prevent ransomware attacks
What’s the most dangerous threat to your business data? The one that hides in plain sight. PhishMe found that 93% of phishing emails now contain ransomware, and 30% of phishing messages were opened, according to Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report.
And phishers are getting sneakier and more creative every day. Many phishing emails are disguised to look like they were sent from a personal contact or even a company CEO. For example, the personal information of 700 former and current Snapchat employees was stolen when an employee fell for an email that was claiming to be from Snapchat’s CEO, Evan Spiegel.
Train employees to recognize the warning signs of phishing emails. Is the email loaded with grammatical errors? Does it ask for payroll or sensitive business data? Does it include a link to a page asking for payroll or sensitive business data? When employees know what red flags to look out for, they’re less likely to click on attachments or links in these convincing and dangerous emails.
It’s not easy to undo the damage a cyber attacker leaves behind. The consequences can last for years. Don’t let this happen to you and your business. Keep your data secure by educating your employees on data security best practices.
Ransomware has now emerged as one of the biggest threats to your business data. Learn how you can best tackle this new threat and keep these attackers at bay by watching our webinar recording below.