The frightening reality of our increasingly interconnected and digitized corporate landscape is that anyone—from multi-billion dollar enterprises to humble SMBs—can fall victim to cyber crime. Regardless of your company's size and profit margins, no business can afford the financial and reputational damage that follows a data breach.
While there is no ironclad way to guarantee your business will remain completely immune to the ever-evolving tools and tactics employed by cyber criminals, there are some commonsense security measures that can go a long way in protecting your data assets from hackers' prying eyes.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
Using a complex password in and of itself is no longer enough to keep your systems safe, especially when so many end users fall into the habit of recycling the same password across multiple accounts.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security for your systems by relying on two user-specific pieces of information to gain account access. Often this will involve a time-sensitive security code generated by an authenticator app on your mobile device in addition to your password; it can also include fingerprints or other biometric verifications.
Encrypt all data
Encryption is a very helpful tool to keep hackers at bay, since it essentially scrambles and de-scrambles data every time someone tries to read it. Encryption also causes compatibility issues if the data is not being accessed via the company’s own network. While applying encryption can be costly, its benefits make it a worthy (and many would argue necessary) security investment.
Keep systems up to date
It's no secret that technology is changing every day. Hackers, in turn, are constantly upgrading their tools to take advantage of outdated security systems, so it makes sense that businesses must do the same in order to safeguard their information and technology assets. Yet many companies continue to lag when it comes to installing software updates (also called "patches") in a timely and consistent manner. Simply put, if new updates are released to close existing security loopholes, delaying said updates will ultimately expose your systems to external compromise.
Perform frequent backups
Even the most up-to-date and advanced technologies fail us from time to time, which is why you need to back up all your data frequently and store it in a secure location, whether it’s on-site, off-site, or by way of cloud backups. In the worst-case scenario wherein your systems fail or are infiltrated by malicious actors, lost data can be restored from those backups.
Many businesses have no idea how many computers they have, making it very difficult to monitor connectivity. Sometimes a company’s computers and servers are online when they don’t need to be, which makes them potential targets for attackers. Business servers should thus be configured properly, ensuring that they are only connected when they need to be, and that they’re well-protected in the meantime.
Train your employees
Most data breaches are caused by human error, and are therefore preventable if end users are equipped with the knowledge they need to recognize and respond to cyber threats. Ongoing security awareness training helps ensure your employees are up-to-date on the latest cyber crime trends, and ensures these issues remain top-of-mind while they check their email and browse the web each day.
At the end of the day, it’s far more costly to recover from a data breach than it is to prevent one. If you want to learn more about how to protect your corporate data and IT systems, get in touch with our experts today.