October 16, 2019 Cybersecurity Knowledge Center

10 Tips for Better Cybersecurity

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Humans pose an even higher risk to your business’s cybersecurity than software flaws and vulnerabilities. Luckily, common sense thinking is an effective way to bolster cybersecurity. Help protect your business from online threats with these 10 tips. 

1.) Be cautious with links and attachments in emails. 

Instead of clicking on a link in an email, open your browser and visit the website directly. Forward the email to IT before clicking on a link if it suggests urgency, calls you to action or requests sensitive information. Phishing is a popular way for hackers to gain access to your network by using false links or attachments, so make sure you double-check. 

2.) Check website addresses. 

When visiting a website, look for “HTTPS:” in front of the URL in the web address bar. If the website has been encrypted with an SSL certificate, it will have an ‘S’ at the end. Without this certificate, hackers could intercept data on the site and use it to gain access to your network. Don’t stop there—assess the content on the website. Are there spelling mistakes? Low-resolution images? Lack of a “contact-us” section? These are all red flags. Always check before you click! 

3.) Don’t email or text sensitive information.

Never send sensitive information such as user credentials, social security numbers, or banking information over unencrypted email or text. If this is requested through an email, verify the phone number and call with the information. Verified vendors and other legitimate organizations will never demand sensitive information over insecure channels. 

4.) Be careful what you share on social media. 

Hackers follow company and employee accounts to gather information for impersonating colleagues. Only follow people you know, and don’t accept follower requests from people you don’t know. Think about cybersecurity when setting your privacy so that search engines can’t make your contact information public. 

5.) Exercise good password hygiene.

Use strong passwords for your accounts. The recommended length for a good password is 15 characters with a combination of upper case, lower case, numbers, and characters. Use unique passwords for each site, so that if a hacker gains access to one, they don’t have the key to all your accounts.

In addition to using strong passwords, we suggest changing your passwords every 90 days. If hackers get access to your password, changing it often gives them less time to wreak havoc on your accounts. If you suspect that your account has been compromised, change your password right away and contact your IT department.

6.) Enable multi-factor authentication.

In today’s world, passwords are necessary. However, passwords alone do not provide enough protection to keep your digital identity safe. Compromised passwords through phishing or brute-force login attempts are still the number one way hackers gain access to data and execute destructive threats like ransomware. Enabling multi-factor authentication enforces an additional step to prove identity before granting access to resources and data, significantly reducing the risk of an attack due to a compromised password.

One way to start implementing multi-factor authentication is to enable challenge questions for your passwords. Here’s the twist: leave out real data. Most of the time, the answers to challenge questions can be found online and on social media accounts. So, instead of using your car’s real make and model or mother’s maiden name, all of which are readily available online, use an alternative to increase security. If you are afraid of forgetting, write them down and store them in a secure location.

7.) Back up your data.

Ransomware, hard drive failure, and stolen laptops are all common ways to lose years’ worth of data and sensitive information. Data loss can happen to anyone and it’s important to understand where you’re storing your files. Do you know if you’re storing data in a place that is backed up and recoverable?  If not, find out. Make sure you are saving your documents properly so that if you happen to lose your data to an attack or hardware defect, you can restore it.

8.) Don’t use the “save password” option in your web browsers.

This is a treasure trove of information for hackers. If they were to gain access to this area of your network, they could use the passwords they obtained to access any accounts that you use the same password with or guess at possible other passwords you use. Instead, use a fully vetted password manager to securely store your passwords. 

9.) Avoid ads and sponsored links. 

Automatic downloads via digital ads are a popular delivery method for malware. No matter what the advertisement, if a link doesn’t come from a verified source, it could be a front for network-compromising viruses. It’s better to be safe than sorry when dealing with network security. 

10.) Restart your computer. 

Restarting allows updates to install, increasing security. Every evening when you leave, restart your computer. Then any patches or updates can install overnight so that your computer is secure and ready to go in the morning. Not only does this help cybersecurity, but it will also help your computer run more smoothly. 

Cybersecurity is an exercise in staying vigilant and making sure that you aren’t low-hanging fruit for hackers. Some tasks may seem tedious, but these 10 simple steps are unobtrusive and can start steering your business in the right direction. If you have questions about how to keep your business safe online or how a managed services provider can help your cybersecurity, learn more here or contact SUCCESS at 763-593-3000. We have cybersecurity specialists ready for your call.