Securing yourself and your business against data breaches and hacks has never been more critical. According to a security report by IBM, the average data breach costs have increased by 13% from 2020 to 2022. They are projected to cost $10.5 trillion by 2025. What makes this troubling for business owners and executives is the likelihood of these breaches resulting from the errors made by their employees, with the effects affecting the everyday netizen.
These massive losses have led organizations to invest heavily in cybersecurity companies and training programs to decrease the ongoing hacking trend. As you go from traditional offices to remote and hybrid work models, you must take extra care not to be the weak link in your organization’s fight against hackers. Here are seven tips to keep your data safer.
1. Work and Business Devices Must Be Personal
Many remote workers and business owners are not stingy with their work PCs and mobile devices. Every now and again, they allow their pals and relatives access to their device to run an errand, complete a task online, browse through social media or shop online. These acts increase the risks of third-party devices remotely accessing your work device.
How? Because you cannot control how other people use your devices, what folders they enter and what programs they might have installed without your knowledge. Private documents might leak, and the downloaded files may have malware. To reduce the chances of this occurring, keep your business device secure and confidential. Instead, have a separate device for when a family or friend asks.
2. Install and Update Your Antivirus
It is almost unthinkable to have a device without an antivirus, but it isn’t impossible to find one. Antivirus is the second line of defense for internet users who may have unknowingly downloaded malware or files containing viruses. Antivirus security software tracks and prevents malware and viruses from stealing your data or negatively affecting how your device works.
PCs come with Microsoft Defender pre-installed on them and offer some form of protection. However, they are no match for third-party solutions because they are poor malware detectors and cannot effectively remove infected files. Whether you opt for a free or premium version, check for regular updates and do not forget to renew your subscriptions for continuous and optimal protection.
3. Follow Best Practices in Sending and Interacting With Emails
Three of every four cyberattacks begin with an email; that’s how often the email route is utilized and how potent it has been. That is why we advise our clients to be wary of their email interactions, especially those who have no clue who the sender is, or emails with sketchy links and attachments. Using multiple email addresses makes it easy for you to tell a phishing scam from an email that is from a legit source. Set aside an email for apps and platforms you don’t trust, another for your business and official dealings and a third for personal purposes. When you receive an email claiming to be a colleague or proposing a business deal, treat it as a scam attempt and delete the email without clicking the attachment.
Use an email encryption service if you send private and sensitive business info like credit card information, your social security number and tokens via email. Encrypting your email makes it useless and unreadable to anyone not listed as the recipient. It is lightweight and affordable, making it easy to maintain.
4. Use Unique and Strong Password Combinations
A strong password combination is your first defense against hackers trying to access your accounts remotely. Surprisingly, users have made it a walk in the park for fraudsters to do so. The most common password combinations are 123456, 123456789, qwerty, password and 12345. In each of these cases, it takes an instant to crack your password. This is why you must vary the characters; your password should be a mixture of lower and upper case alphabets, numbers and symbols.
It is in your best interest to use a different password of 16 characters minimum for each account. Using a random password generator reduces the stress of creating a password with these requirements for every new account. As the number of accounts you own increases, it becomes increasingly difficult to remember the different passwords. Make your job easier by using a password manager. This way, you’ll only need to remember the password to the password manager.
5. Install and Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
If you, like many others, use public WiFi often, install and use a VPN when connected to the network. VPN disrupts the information flowing from your device to another server, making it impossible for the internet service provider to track your usage. This is critical when you share WiFi with a potential hacker who may interrupt your device’s communication with the server to access your information remotely. Using strong and unique passwords for every account you own will make you safer, but connecting to public WiFI without a VPN makes you an easy target for hackers.
Contact Shipshape IT for Your Cybersecurity Needs Today
Lost business opportunities account for the largest share of data breaches and hacks worldwide, with the possibility and cost rising yearly. Waiting for a breach to happen before taking adequate steps can put you out of business and cause your customers to trust you less. Our team at Shipshape IT is experienced at creating custom solutions for your business needs and reducing the hacking footprints of your network. Call us today at 703-312-9040 or send us a message to book an appointment.