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Cybersecurity is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, it is up to every business owner to understand the basics of keeping their digital assets safe. Hackers, scammers, and other never-do-wellers have an intimate knowledge of how the web works, and they can infiltrate even the most secure systems. But, as an entrepreneur, you don’t want to make it easy for them, and the IT decisions you make today will either encourage or discourage criminals from targeting your site.
Here, Gaudy Language covers some of the most common online security mistakes made by new and established businesses.
Thinking that cybersecurity is someone else’s problem.
Hackers don’t discriminate. This is something we all need to keep in mind as we establish our online presence. If you have data flowing between your system and your customers and employees, you have valuable information that cybercriminals will go to any length to obtain. Don’t get lost in the idea that no one will ever target your business, no matter how large or small you may be. They will. So take preventative measures by using a recruiting agency to hire a security expert today.
Failure to have a recovery plan in the works.
A recovery plan goes beyond prevention to ensure that you have a way to retrieve stolen or locked data when you experience a cybersecurity attack. Work with your IT department or independent cybersecurity firm to design a recovery plan that’s easy for employees at all levels to initiate. It should also be affordable and work with all sorts of attacks. Ideally, it will include two or more infrastructure protection procedures and be accessible through one interface. You will also need to ensure that it remains relevant and scalable by testing it periodically. Your disaster recovery plan should work whether you are attacked with ransomware, experience a hardware failure, are struck by a natural disaster, or are part of a data breach event.
Not blocking threats at the door.
To be most effective, your cybersecurity endeavors should be consistent. This means doing things, such as monitoring your website, routinely. Check for issues that might mean an attempted infiltration. Spam comments, multiple failed login attempts, or a fake antivirus message are all signs that your website might’ve been hacked. To keep your website secure, make sure that your software is up-to-date and that you are using a trustworthy hosting company. Talk to your IT services provider about how to protect from SQL injections and cross site scripting attacks.
If you collect information from your customers, you have to make sure that this data is always protected. You do not want to trust this treasure trove to a spreadsheet saved to a single laptop. Utilize both a local backup and cloud storage to ensure you always have access to data when you need it most. Furthermore, you can take steps to protect your customers by only asking for the most pertinent information about themselves that you need. For example, you do not need to ask for Social Security numbers.
Not providing employee training.
It is not your employees’ responsibility to automatically know how to keep your systems and site safe. It is your job to make that part of their onboarding and ongoing training. It is easy to look at famous data breaches and assume that it was a careless employee that caused the problem. In reality, the vast majority of the time these employees were not trained on how to spot issues or were not authorized to take steps to prevent them. Cox Business explains that you have to make cyber awareness one of your company’s top priorities. If you are a larger corporation, you’ll also want to get input from executives. Training to cover includes creating strong passwords and how to recognize social engineering attacks. Employees should be versed in your company's cybersecurity protocols as soon as they hit the payroll.
Failure to evaluate vendors.
Many data breaches are triggered by issues stemming from third parties or outside vendors. Don’t be afraid to ask your suppliers about how they keep your data safe. While moving anything outside of your company comes with some risks, you should evaluate and define your vulnerabilities threshold. If you’re not sure how to do this, you can find a risk management template online. This will ask questions about personally identifiable information, compliance, and system monitoring. Request that your vendors complete these evaluations periodically, perhaps every 12 to 18 months. This will not only ensure that you always have up-to-date information, but will also remind them of their obligation to their customers.
Taking no extra cybersecurity steps for remote workers.
Ensuring your company's cybersecurity procedures are up-to-date isn’t always easy. But, it’s made exponentially more difficult when you’re dealing with remote workers who are forced to rely on their own personal equipment, which is more common than ever in 2021. Even those with a company-specific laptop or phone often share their device, despite being fully aware that this might compromise online security. The line between home and office has been blurred, and you must enact policies that bring it into focus once again. This should include limiting what websites employees can access from their work device, blocking streaming services, such as Netflix, and requiring work-at-home staff to secure their home Wi-Fi network. Regarding the latter, the Federal Trade Commission explains that this requires encrypting the network and changing the router's preset password.
A negative cybersecurity event, such as a data breach or having your systems lock down, can cause significant issues between you and your customers. It can also be the beginning of a financial or public relations disaster from which you may not recover. But, although you cannot always stay ahead of digital criminals, there are steps you can take and decisions you can make today to help reduce your chances of becoming a victim and a statistic.
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