More and more businesses report data breaches. T-mobile and British Airways are among the big names to hit headlnes in 2018. While businesses should do the best they can to avoid data mishandling, investing in the right tools and employee education are also imperative. That starts with management – what are some ways to prevent you company from being targetted? What are some ways to increase cybersecurity defenses without breaking the bank. Ensuring privacy and security is surprisingly easy and inexpensive if you understand your vulnerabilities, and here are four tips to help you navigate these terrains.
1. Use strong passwords and TLS to protect your emails
For an entrepreneur, all the magic happens via email—from sending sensitive documents to prospective investors, to communicating with your employees about private company information.
Consequently, it follows that you must employ the highest level of email security to guarantee both private and secure emails. Email security is especially critical when you consider that according to a Google report, cybercriminals target corporate users more than they do personal email account holders.
The actual stats indicate businesses are targeted by phishing emails 6.2 times more and by malware-infected emails 4.3 times more. To avoid being a target and to ensure high-level email security, you ought to do two things.
- Use strong passwords
- Use TLS
Using strong passwords sounds obvious, but surprisingly, very few people do. In a survey of about 1000 respondents, about half said they reused passwords and only 55.8% used complex passwords.
Strong passwords are long (at least eight characters long), they are unique, they are completely random, and they use a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.
Note that strong passwords are hard to crack which means your email account and the accounts of your employees remain safe. In addition to the strong passwords, you can add another layer of security by enabling two-factor authentication.
Two-factor authentication ensures a one-time password is sent to a registered device, anytime someone is accessing the email account. As a result, even if someone cracks your primary password, they are still stranded because they have no access to the one-time password.
TLS is a protocol that encrypts any connection to a website or server. It verifies that a server is authentic and safe, including any email server you might be using.
When all your emails travel via an encrypted channel, then it follows that eavesdroppers and all manner of hackers are locked out and your emails remain secure.
2. Use a VPN to protect your small or medium-sized business’s digital footprint
A VPN is an effective security solution that helps protect your business from hackers and anyone with malicious intent. It does so by ensuring all your online communications travel over an encrypted channel.
Remember, as an entrepreneur, your goal is to develop products or services that give you a competitive advantage. If anyone else gets hold of these products or services, then you lose your competitive advantage.
However, a VPN deters anyone who intends to steal sensitive information about your products or services because they cannot break through the encryption. Additionally, the hacker cannot launch a virus or malware attack. Most important, anytime you use a VPN, you are invisible to other users using the public network.
That means you remain anonymous and no one can track what you are doing behind that encrypted channel. If still in doubt, here are three more reasons why you should use a VPN for your business.
- VPNs are affordable. A VPN can cost as low as $4.5 per month.
- VPNs protect your clients and engender trust from them because they can see your care about their privacy and their online security.
- Virtual Private Networks allow you to do business from anywhere in the world. Bear in mind that countries such as China and Turkey keep an eye on what you do online.
3. Stay updated and update everything regularly
Threats keep evolving by the day. As they evolve, so do the methods of protecting oneself from these threats. It is imperative that you stay up to date with emerging hacking threats. You can do so by following a reputable tech site or journal.
Anytime you spot a new threat, update your security solutions to ensure they can handle the new threat. Moreover, both you and your employees should ensure you update software regularly.
People tend to ignore software updates. If that update was supposed to deal with security vulnerabilities and you ignore it, then you might get attacked in the interim. Solution? Constant and regular updates where required.
4. Use firewalls—including web application firewall and antivirus
As the name suggests, a firewall is a security wall between you and any maliciousness. A regular firewall protects an individual device, or an internal system while a web application firewall sits between your data connection and website server.
A firewall blocks hacking attempts, and it filters out unwanted traffic such as malicious bots or spammers.
Employing the above security and privacy hacks will put you on your way to conquering the ever-expanding online security threats.