Digital West: Five Ways to Strengthen Your Cybersecurity
Submitted from Digital West:
We read about high-profile data security breaches almost daily, and as small business owners it can be easy to think, “If that company can’t manage to keep their data secure, how on earth is my business going to do it?” Yes, with so many moving parts, maintaining a secure business environment is daunting, but you’ve got to start somewhere. There’s no foolproof way to prevent human error, but by assessing your current practices and instilling some new habits among your employees, you can make headway in these areas.
Internet & Office Resources
Many free games and downloads are malware in disguise, and spear phishing tactics (i.e., attempts from seemingly trusted sources to obtain confidential information) are becoming increasingly sophisticated and difficult to recognize. A clear set of online policies ensures employees are not putting your business at risk. You should limit Internet browsing to business purposes or, even better, have employees and guests use a separate guest network – not your Local Area Network (LAN) — when using their personal devices. Other safeguards include restricting unauthorized downloads (including software applications), prohibiting the use of business email to send personal files, forward links or perform any activities outside of their specific job role. Some basic education around phishing will also go a long way.
Data Storage & Sharing
Despite being in the digital age, many business records are still managed via paper, and many of those records contain sensitive data (e.g., credit card numbers, account numbers). Does your team know how to store that data in a secure manner, whether it be online in a cloud environment or in a locked cabinet? Do you have protocols in place for emailing personal data such as social security numbers for HR purposes? Do employees regularly transfer files to an office or personal computer to work on at home or while travelling? If you’re not evaluating these practices, you’ve just exponentially increased your risk exposure.
Hardware & Applications
Too many businesses hang on to their old computers like they are treasured antiques, resulting in frequent outages, spotty performance and unpatched applications, and leaving your door open to hackers. While it may seem like it makes sense to keep your computers until the letters fall off the screen, it’s more cost effective to replace them when the warranty expires than to continue fixing them when they break. A good lifecycle management plan will keep you ahead of the game. Better yet, take this opportunity to consider moving your data to a private cloud environment; you’ll significantly reduce your annual CapEx costs, and you’ll be much more secure.
It’s easy to get a little complacent with passwords; employees tend to use simple, easily crackable, phrases or the same password across multiple accounts. Implementing password policy and procedures that prompt employees to create strong passwords (e.g., special characters, uppercase/ lowercase letters, numbers) and change them at least annually is a very good place to start.
Maybe you’re an old hand at the deploying the strategies above, but you still have an uneasy feeling that your business is at risk. Fortunately, there are plenty of security scanning programs on the market that can scan your devices and network to identify areas of risk. Digital West, for instance, uses an award-winning security assessment tool to produce reports with your overall risk score and specific recommendations on how to remediate those risks. And getting one of these assessments is less expensive than you might think!
Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from moving forward to keep your business and its reputation strong and secure!
About Digital West
Digital West delivers secure, reliable Internet, phone and cloud services to businesses in Templeton and throughout the Central Coast. Our local, friendly customer support is available 24/7/365. www.digitalwest.com.