Cyber Security Tips You Need to Know About

by Perjan Duro, Founder

The online world offers many benefits to businesses and individuals. Access to information is limitless, data processing is faster than ever and everyone who has access to the Internet is connected to everyone else. Also, technology's advancements made Internet access and faster connections more available to everyone. All of these benefits made everyone more dependent on the Internet and its advantages. However, with more benefits come more risks.

The Internet is full of people who are more than capable of taking an advantage of security flaws to breach the system and do significant damage to either an individual or a company. The worst thing is that everyone can fall prey to cyber attacks, be that a single person or an entire government. Nevertheless, if you're careful enough, you'll be able to protect yourself from such attacks and protect your assets in the digital world. Here are a few cyber security tips you need to know about.

Control employee access

Small businesses and startups usually don't have enough funds to hire full-time IT support, but that's no reason to neglect cyber security. The first thing you need to do is limit access to sensitive data and important business information. Don't let your entire workforce have access to every file. Instead, create work groups within your organization's system and allow access only to data that's relevant for specific group's job. As a matter of fact, 60% of cyber attacks happen due to security leaks within the company.

Also, make sure you use strong passwords to protect your sensitive information. A strong password consists of capital letters, small letters, symbols and numbers, and is usually 8 to 12 characters long or even longer. If you have trouble remembering your password, write it on a piece of paper but don't leave it at the office for everyone to find. Furthermore, don't use the same password for multiple logins, such as your social network account, email etc. Also, make sure to change it every three months, at least.

Secure your network

Businesses usually have their own private networks, such as intranets in which they conduct day to day business operations and share information organization wide. However, private networks are the most common targets for hackers, because if something is private then they probably have something valuable to hide. In most cases, those valuables are sensitive client information, business operations, intellectual property and so on that can be sold to someone on the Dark Web.

That's why implementing cyber security measures such as firewalls, anti-virus and anti-malware software is crucial for securing your network. If your organization already has cyber security measures in place, it's good practice to conduct penetration testing, which simulates real attacks on your network to identify potential security leaks and vulnerabilities. That way, you'll know where your weak spots are and if your network can be infiltrated; then you can fix all those weak spots before someone has a chance to breach your security.

Device updates

Many people and businesses are quite carefree about cyber security, even though they can lose sensitive information and assets in a single attack. People generally neglect to regularly update their devices, security measures and systems. Just because you have some sort of security in place doesn't mean it's going to protect you forever. Every device and piece of software has to be updated regularly so that it can upgrade to latest security, functionality and usability features.

A recent example of both large and small companies falling prey to cyber attacks due to negligence to update software is the WannaCry ransomware attack that hit a lot of companies across Europe such as UK's National Health Service, Deutsche Bahn and Spain's FedEx in 2017. Most companies were using the obsolete Windows XP operating system and an older version of Windows 7. Without regular updates, you leave your system vulnerable to attacks, especially since cyber attacks get more sophisticated each year.

Importance of data backups

In case of a security breach, it's always a good idea to have backups of all your data in a safe place. You can choose to backup data on external hard drives or use one of the cloud solutions. That way, you can restore systems to their previous state and allow your business to continue its operation, while you tend to the damage.

Data backups are essential not just in case of cyber attack, but in case of critical hardware failures and malfunctions. Also, natural disasters could strike at any time and backups will prove valuable in case physical damage destroys your hardware. Businesses pretty much depend on the ability to resume operation even during downtime. Otherwise, they lose revenue and can’t keep their customers happy. In case something bad happens, your backups will prove essential to restoring regular operations, instead of having to build everything from scratch.

Maintaining cyber security these days isn't as complicated as people believe it to be. If you're worried about losing data and information to a cyber attack, then it shouldn't be too much of a problem to implement and maintain security measures as well as update them regularly.

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