Cyber Security Tips for the Average Business
The threat of cyber crime is real for every business with an internet-facing device (which is pretty much everyone). And with businesses like Yahoo suffering massive data breaches, it’s more important than ever to protect information from intrusion and attack. Here are some ideas on how you can make that happen.
Better Password Habits
The three big problems with most passwords people use are:
- They’re easy to guess
- They’re hard to remember
- We use the same one for everything
Addressing these problems is imperative to maintaining cyber security, both professionally and personally. One solution is the use of a password manager, which can remember passwords for you and can randomly generate passwords of any length, with a high level of entropy (a measurement of how difficult it will be for a program to guess the correct password). But even if you’re using a password manager, and you generate a new password for every login profile, you still need a master password.
A solid tactic for creating passwords that are easy to remember but difficult for a computer to guess is using four or five random words. Even without numbers or special characters, the length of the password ensures high entropy (hard for computers to crack), and using common (but random) words makes remembering it fairly simple.
Avoid Phishing and Malware
It’s important to verify the identity and trustworthiness of those you interact with online. Avoid opening suspicious email attachments, downloading files and programs of dubious nature and origin, and double check to be sure that emails and other communications are coming from authorized sources. And be aware that extreme cases of bad spelling and poor grammar are a bad sign. Remember, there’s no software patch that can fix an unwary user.
Protect Sensitive Information
Be sure not to overshare online. IM and email may seem secure, but neither the transmission nor the storage of that data is guaranteed safe. Avoid sharing private information like credit card, social security and bank account numbers, and warn others to do the same.
Part of ensuring cyber security is making sure your software is up to date. Many updates are written to close newly-discovered holes in security, and the older a piece of software is, the more likely it is that hackers have found a way in.
Use Secure Wireless Connections
Make sure your wireless connection is password protected (refer to our first topic for ideas on that). Try to only use secure connections when you’re out-and-about, and if you must use an unsecured, open connection, don’t login to anything, or purchase anything. Transmissions over an open network are like conversations in an open room: almost anyone can listen in. Getting information that way is impossibly easy for a hacker.
Host on HTTPS
Online interactions hosted over HTTP are as bad as insecure WiFi. Any business that exchanges sensitive information should host the page over HTTPS. What’s more, if you only use HTTPS for the pages that deal with sensitive information, and put the rest on HTTP, then hackers can use a “downgrade attack” to gain backdoor access to sensitive data transmissions. So put all chips on HTTPS.
Vet Business Partners
Before making any commitments to share sensitive information with other companies, check their security protocols. Even if you build your system like Fort Knox, if someone else has copies of your data (be they a cloud service or just your bank), then you’re still at risk if they don’t keep it safe. So be sure before you share.
Use a Cyber Security Firm
Hiring cyber security experts can help you manage all of the above, and help you to close other gaps in security. Not every business has the budget to manage the overhead of their own security team. Hiring out helps get you the security you want, without the expense.
About the Author: Danielle Adams is a freelance writer who works with various publications including Fibernet. When she’s not writing, Danielle enjoys learning more about cyber security, reading crime novels, and exploring her local coffee shop.