5 Things You Should Know About Cybersecurity

| September 21, 2017 | Articles

It seems that you can’t turn on your computer without seeing yet another story about database hacking and cybersecurity breaches.  And while it’s tempting to just tune out, it’s important not to. Small businesses and large businesses alike are being targeted at increasing rates by cyber hackers.

Here are some basic things you should know in an effort to keep your business, your employees – and your technology – safer.

  • Beware Public Wi-Fi

When you or your employees are stuck in an airport on your way to a meeting or prepping in a coffee shop, good public Wi-Fi feels like a gift. We’re all prone to jumping on free networks to fill time in between, but know that you do so at your own risk.

Hackers can intercept the data you’re transferring by exploiting security flaws in the router – or even by providing rogue hotspots to unsuspecting users.

Consider instituting a VPN (virtual private network) policy for all devices used for your business to protect your data when using public networks. A VPN establishes a tunnel for your data to go back and forth through and makes it more difficult to intercept.

The average business traveler or virtual employee might not know it’s a bad idea to check important business accounts – particularly those that contain financial and other sensitive information – on a public network, so make sure that you have a clear policy or procedures in place.

  • Protect Your Passwords

It’s highly recommended that you take advantage of two-factor authentication for any program that offers you the option.

Also, many experts believe that everyone should be using a password manager program that assigns random passwords for each of your logins. All you need to remember is your login for the password manager.

Protecting your password applies to ATMs as well when using the company credit card. Always cover the keypad when entering your PIN in case there are hidden cameras. Also, check for physical skimmers that may be placed over ATM equipment.

  • Trust Your Gut About Phishing Schemes

People create security flaws by clicking on things they shouldn’t. But many phishing attempts can be thwarted by training yourself and your employees, and by trusting your gut.

A good rule of thumb is if something seems like it’s off, it probably is. Think before you click. Take that extra second to consider the source and the wording of the message. Is that something the sender would have sent or said?

If you are unsure if an email is legitimate, you can go to the website directly and find the information you’re looking for by doing a search on the site, instead of clicking on a link in an email or from a pop-up in a web browser.

Also, beware of attachments sent by senders you don’t know or aren’t expecting something from.

When in doubt, just delete the email, close the web pop-up or call the sender or sender’s organization to ensure legitimacy.

  • Keep PDF Software Updated

Occasionally, your web browser may give you a message saying that a PDF is unsafe. That can be confusing because people use PDFs because they’re considered safer.

So, how does a PDF become unsafe? There are many other embedded programs in a PDF file in addition to the reader. That said, the average user can stay fairly safe by ensuring that their PDF reader software is current.

In fact, keeping all of your software up to date is a great way to help protect your device and your data.

But again, if you aren’t sure about the source of a document, make sure that your employees do not open them or enable any functionality without checking on it first.

  • Spot Mobile App Spyware

Sticking with reputable and established app providers is good guidance. Try to be cognizant of what apps are asking for access to. As with phishing scams discussed above, if it seems off, don’t download the app. But even the biggest app stores occasionally approve apps with issues.

As mobile device usage continues to grow, small businesses need to carefully consider what apps they actually need to use for their business. You might want to institute a policy on not downloading unapproved apps on company devices to try to maintain some control.

If you’re ready to crawl back under the covers now, I get it. However, the best advice for being safe online boils down to informing your employees of best practices, staying current with your software, passwords, and with the tactics that hackers are using.

Be smart and be vigilant. Train yourself and your employees. Update your software regularly.

And please remember that cybersecurity training needs to be ongoing, not just done once when you hire someone. Practice makes perfect – or at least better equipped to make good decisions.

Carol Roth
Carol Roth
Carol Roth makes people think, makes them laugh and makes them money. She is a national media personality (currently an on-air contributor for CNBC), 'recovering' investment banker, entrepreneur, investor, speaker and New York Times bestselling author of “The Entrepreneur Equation.” As a deal-maker, Carol has helped clients complete more than $2 billion in transactions, including capital raising, M&A, licensing and partnership deals, plus create 7-figure brand loyalty programs. Carol acts as a brand spokesperson and advisor for a variety of companies, is a huge professional sports fan and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

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