Dangerously Unprepared: Don't Make Your Cyber Security an Afterthought

Every day, it seems cyber criminals are using new, more sophisticated scams. Their attacks are so clandestine that companies, especially small businesses, don’t realise they’re a victim until it’s too late. From programmers who write the code for the viruses that infect computers to hackers who break into business networks, all have one common goal. They aim to steal valuable information such as credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, email addresses and home addresses to make fraudulent charges.

Remember that no one, from family-owned businesses to large corporations, is exempt from cyber hacking, viruses and phishing. Keep reading to learn some valuable tips every business owner should follow to keep their data safe and secure.

Be Diligent: Update and Update Often

If your business is still using computers that look like cavemen invented them right after the wheel, it might be time for an update. Also, hackers can gain access to your computer through vulnerabilities in outdated programs. So, it’s wise to update your OS and software often. If you’re still using Java or Flash, consider other software less likely to be infected by malware.

Be Proactive: Bulk Up Your Security

If you want to thwart hackers before they even have a chance, consider downloading antivirus, anti-malware and anti-spyware programs along with a firewall. Then, invest in anti-exploitation software to stop cyber attackers in their tracks. By spending a bit of money on updates and security, you'll have more peace of mind.

Be Difficult: Protect Your Passwords

Password protect all your devices and change the passwords often. Also, make sure the password is complex by using uppercase and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. For extra protection, install password programs that require two forms of authentication, making getting into your device more difficult.

Be Vigilant: Know the Latest Threats

You probably have heard of the scam email from the “Nigerian prince” who needs money for various reasons. It is the most common, well-known phishing scheme. Phishing is an attempt to obtain usernames, passwords and credit card information through email by pretending to be a legitimate, trustworthy company or source. Make sure you know the latest phishing scams out there.

Be Cautious: Think Twice Before Opening That Email

Never open emails or attachments from people you don’t know. Be careful what links you click on, too. Also, never give out personal information, such as Social Security numbers, to anyone over email or the telephone.

Be Stealthy: Use Encryption Whenever Possible

Another security measure that’s worth investing in is encryption. When someone gets to your data, encryption can stop them from reading the information. You can even encrypt your hard drive and flash drives.

Be Safe: Prevent Attacks Instead of Treating Them Afterward

Preventing a cyber-attack is much easier than getting rid of the virus, malware and phishing software infecting your computer. This is because if you're affected, you'll have to recover your personal information by changing your banking information, and getting new credit and debit cards. In addition, some companies use security measures and defensive mechanisms, and employ IT teams to remain proactive and protect against attacks before they happen.

Cyber-attacks don’t have to happen to you. By making simple changes and updates to your software, security and passwords, you can avoid the hassle of dealing with cyber or identity theft. Security Intelligence estimates that data breaches because of cyber-attacks will cost an estimated $2 trillion by 2019. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) Data Breach Report, in 2016, "More than 29 million records were exposed in 858 publicised breaches across sectors including financial, government, healthcare, and education." With this guide, you can save your business money and keep your data secure.

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