I'm sure I don't need to remind you about the dozens of major company security breaches we've seen over the past few years. Hopefully, your company's private data and information hasn't been hacked - yet. In today's tech savvy world, security breaches are, unfortunately, becoming more common than not. With that in mind, here are three measures every business should put in place in order to protect itself from vengeful hackers.
1. Educate Your Employees
Surprisingly, the majority of security breaches occur because employees inadvertently misuse sensitive information. In fact, according to Forrester, only 15% of security breaches are due to vindictive external attacks, while the other 85% are because employees aren't properly trained in how to handle sensitive business information. One element that has lead to such breaches is the increase in organizations offering BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) policies - meaning, employees can use their personal laptops, tablets, and smartphones in the workplace. However, BYOD comes with major security concerns - for example, if employees use the same device to access sensitive business information that they use in cafes under public WiFi, there's a much higher risk that the business information on their devices will be vulnerable to potential attacks.
But, if more organizations were to implement security awareness and training programs that teach employees how to secure their information, detect, and avoid breaches, perhaps malicious attacks would become less common. For example, businesses can encourage employees to create strong passwords that use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols; instruct them not to open suspicious emails; and especially not to click on suspicious links, even if they think they know the sender.
Lastly it's important to ensure that training is ongoing - while including such training in initial hire orientations is a start, businesses can also try sending security best practices to employees every few months, reminding them to change their password or informing them of latest phishing schemes.
This way, employees will be able to stay ahead of the tricks and business information will remain secure.
2. Tech It Out
There are dozens of tools that business' can utilize to ensure that important files and information are kept safe and secure.
First, it's absolutely essential that employees have a VPN installed on their devices. A VPN, or a Virtual Private Network, creates a secure connection over a public network on the Internet. If, like I mentioned before, employees use public WiFi hotspots to access confidential corporate information, they better pray they remembered to download a VPN service on that device - public WiFi is a notoriously easy way for hackers to seize important files and information. But, if those employees did in fact remember to equip their devices with a VPN, they can happily browse the web just about anywhere in the world without having to worry that someone is snooping on their connection.
In addition to installing a VPN, it's also extremely important for employees to secure their individual online services, namely their work email. I don't need your username and password to know that you've got tons of vulnerable information hidden within your email, whether it's corporate banking information or that new product design that was meant to be kept secret until next quarter.
Fortunately, there are powerful web based security apps designed to protect the information employees keep within their email accounts that first scan for any vulnerabilities and then notify users when something suspicious arises. It's essential that businesses make sure their employees' email accounts are safe and secure - downloading such security apps can help businesses react fast before something extreme happens. After all, even the most tech-savvy employees can easily be tricked hackers and their increasingly sophisticated techniques.
3. Spring Clean Your Customer Databases
In addition to training employees and arming devices and accounts with preventive security tools, businesses should also remember to 'clean' their database every few months and erase any outdated customer information. After all, the less sensitive information businesses store, the less chance something can go wrong in the future. Often, businesses think it's more convenient and lucrative if customer information is stored in business databases for long periods of time, but the risk of a breach far outweighs that luxury. Rather, storing sensitive information is an unnecessary burden to carry, especially seeing that the most infamous external breaches result in some sort of customer information leak (think: Target, Home Depot, Ashley Madison).
It's for this reason that businesses should make a note to, every so often, review the personal information held in their customer databases and delete anything that's outdated or no longer relevant for business. In fact, the Data Protection Act states that customer information cannot be held longer than necessary and even advises businesses to establish formal data retention policies. That way, once the customer information surpasses its retention period, businesses are in a better place to permanently delete the information from their databases, ensuring both their company and their customers are safe.
In short, it's imperative that businesses equip themselves with the best tools and practices to prevent possible data breaches, instead of struggling to damage control after the fact. If business follow these three simple suggestions, they'll be sure to significantly lower their chances of being attacked.
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