The Internet and technology becoming more and more popular and advanced has created a large spectrum of possibilities for both individuals and businesses. There are, however, two sides to every coin. Along with knowledge and entertainment, there comes danger and, ignoring that fact, may lead to catastrophic results.
Until recently cyber theft has been a concern of big businesses only, but it is no longer a matter of the size of your business. Whether big or small or even run by a family, every company should be aware of cyber threats and be able to protect itself online. How do you stay secured?
What is Internet Security?
Individuals are very often victims of hackers, but when it is a business that is being threatened or unsecured, personal data of more than just one person is endangered. Internet security is nothing other than protecting your data from theft, loss or unauthorised access and use. It is true that many big firms employ full-time security experts, but not being able to afford this solution is no excuse, all you need to do is to start a few new habits.
Why is online theft so common?
Businesses not being aware of or ignoring the fact that they can become victims of cyber threats or data breaches is probably the best explanation. The lack of education of most of the Internet users gives hackers the green light, that is why every business should know the risks and the consequences. Considering the number of users is constantly growing, there seems to be no better place for thieves than the Internet. You can, however, fight it.
What's in danger?
When it comes to individuals, hackers usually aim for your bank account, but informing your bank and having the account blocked takes no longer than a minute. That is, however, the best case scenario. In one of the episodes from season 3, Black Mirror gives a great example of what else hackers may be looking for and the story is more than terrifying.
Companies, on the other hand, have to deal with much more than that. Not only do they manage much higher amounts of money, they also keep sensitive data about their customers that may be a target for hackers as well.
How does it work?
It may be an e-mail from a friend, it may be Lady Gaga's newest album, it may be your employees not really doing what they are supposed to, all you need to do is pay attention to details.
Hackers use e-mails to make you click a link, but those e-mail addresses look like those of your friends. Before you click the link or download any attachments, make sure there is no typo in the address or the message - or simply ask your friends if they have sent you anything.
Even though downloading music albums and films online is not entirely legal, I am not here to judge you. Before you download anything, research the source or use only sources that you know are reliable. Clicking the wrong link or downloading the wrong file usually means having a malware software installed before you realise.
How to secure your business?
Having a security specialist or installing a proper firewall is one thing, the other is maintaining a few simple habits and making sure your employees do the same thing. It is both cheaper and quicker and will help you avoid a catastrophe.
- Change your passwords every 90 months
The longer a password remains the same, the more chance it has of being hacked, especially when you use the same password on many sites or allow your browser to save all of the passwords, as one-quarter of Americans do, according to a Harris Interactive survey. Companies can easily use password generators to create strong, uncrackable passwords.
- Update your computer operating system
Hackers often look for systems without the latest safeguards and the best way to protect yourself is to make sure all your operating systems and anti-virus software stays updated. Enable automatic updates and never ignore update requests.
- Encrypt your online store
Using SSL encryption technology is a must if you want to protect your customers during the checkout process, but securing each page of the website instead of using twenty-year-old and unencrypted HTML protocol, just like Shopify does, is getting more and more popular.
Protecting personal information of both yours and your customers should be one of your top priorities, no matter what size your business is. Make sure all of your employees know what the risks are and what damage cyber attacks can bring and implement those three tips as soon as possible to stay secured.
Beata Green is Director of HeadChannel Ltd. She is responsible for overall strategic direction and overseeing the company’s continuing growth, building closer client relationships and maintaining best working practices. She enjoys brisk country walks with her red fox labrador and then relaxing in front of a TV crime drama with a glass of red wine.