All businesses, both big and small, should have a good idea of what they need to do to stay safe online. As we all virtually live in the online world more than the real world these days, whether that’s teenagers staring into their phone screens or office workers being unable to tear their eyes away from the screen, it’s never been more important to know exactly how to stay safe online.
For businesses who are not properly protected, being targeted by hackers and threats is common. Sometimes, it’s even down to an employee of a particular business when there’s a clear breach in security, or a reputation is ruined online.
Let’s take a look through this comprehensive safety guide so you get a good idea of what you need to do for your own business:
Accepting online payments or gathering customer information online is the norm for many businesses, so you should consider authentication if you do these things. This will prevent credit card fraud and a number of other fraudulent activities. Various forms of authentication could include fingerprints and even security questions. Passwords should be used, but they are becoming less reliable.
Make sure you follow industry guidelines when it comes to data encryption, as you’ll need to stop sensitive data from being stolen when being used online. It isn’t unheard of for larger companies to become the victims of hackers in cases like this - and it’ll take a hell of a lot to make it up to your customers.
Working With A Third Party Security Provider
Let’s be honest; online threats change each and every day. Your company’s approach to internet security should feature the most current security offerings for your online needs. It doesn’t matter whether you run an ecommerce site, maintain your operations using the cloud, or do any other number of activities online - investing in a comprehensive security platform is imperative. You can find services that offer both advice and intelligence to help you make the most of the time your business spends online. Make sure you visit Difenda for more information if you’re still not sure what you should be looking for to help you get a good idea of what could be available for your business.
Training Employees To Be Safe Online
Having an online security plan in place is all well and good, but training your employees to be safe online is still a must. Having a handbook available so that there are no crossed wires with your employees is a must. You should never simply leave this job to your IT department. Here are just some of the things you’ll need to discuss with your employees:
- Computer usage - how you handle this will be down to your company. You may not allow employees to download a new program at all without the go ahead from the IT team. Whatever you do, make sure you encourage employees to clean up their systems and keep good practices for staying organized.
- Creating strong passwords - choosing strong passwords that are a mixture of character types for each program is a good idea. Having a program available to make keeping these passwords easier will be a good idea.
- Monitoring emails - emails should never be trusted based on a sender’s name. Make sure they know that they shouldn’t click on suspect links, and that they are aware of how to report these emails.
- Performing domain checks - domain names should always be checked over, especially when verifying orders or using a site to transmit sensitive data.
- Using social media - make sure your employees know the best practices to use on social media so that both their personal and professional safety are protected. Many of the things posted on social media today can be used for identity theft.
Your Online Voice
Paying close attention to your business’s online voice is crucial. The things you say about others could get you into trouble. At the very least, it can say a lot about what your business is truly about. Posting that you’re going to be out of the office for a week could leave you open to a real life robbery. You should focus on having an online voice that is both professional and suits your business. Avoid writing things about others, e.g. defaming them publicly.
Enable HTTPS On The Website
HTTPs websites have an SSL/TLS certificate installed onto their servers. This certificate encrypt all data transmitted from browser to server. Not only will this protect data, it’ll give people that visit your site peace of mind.
Although passwords have been briefly mentioned, it’s worth talking about them again. They are becoming less effective, so taking a more vigilant approach is a must. Make sure they are strong, not able to be guessed, and that you only use them once. Using the same password on every account could mean huge trouble if you are actually hacked. Apply password training for employees, ensuring they do not write these down or communicate them on online platforms, but using a password manager instead.
Keeping Your Software Updated
Keeping your software updated is a quick and easy way to stay much safer online.
Using Firewall Security
Firewalls may be old news, but they can still help to prevent unauthorized access from a private network. You can create your own rules for a firewall to make sure it does what you need it to do.
Backup Your Data
Performing regular data backups ensure your files can be recovered should something terrible happen. Back up data using different locations so that hackers won’t be able to access both areas.
Coming Up With Your Incident Response Strategy
You can’t always stop an attack from happening, but you can have an incident response strategy in place to make sure that you handle the aftermath well. You should be able to respond quickly enough to stop attackers from getting ahold of sensitive data. Somebody within your workforce should be responsible for handling this plan too.
Creating a team that handles these kinds of things could also be a good idea. You might want to include a member of the PR team to release communications, and a salesperson who can communicate what has gone on to your customers. This will depend on the size of your business, but you will likely need multiple people who handle the strategy. Make sure the team have what they need to respond quickly and efficiently when faced with an attack.
Analyzing Inside Threat Possibilities
Not all threats come from outside of your business. Performing an insider threat analysis will help you to uncover any potential threats to your IT systems and infrastructure that actually from inside of your organization. Could it be employees, or even former employees? Perhaps vendors, or third party data suppliers?
Learning From Your Mistakes
You can still put a positive spin on your mistakes, as you must learn from them to ensure they don’t happen again. When you return to your normal practices, conduct a review so you can analyse exactly what caused the attack or problem, how you could have handled it differently, and what you’re going to do to stop this from happening again in the future.
Consider Employing A Hacker
Some people like to hack for companies legally. They don’t all want to steal data and make a fortune online - they want to use what they are good at to help. A ‘white hat hacker’ can help you to combat black hat hackers - the ones who really do want to steal all of your information and ruin your business. They’ll be able to spot any flaws in your system and help you to strengthen them.
Utilize The Cloud
All businesses should know how useful the cloud is by now. Small and medium businesses can utilize the cloud if they want to outsource the protection of their data. Just make sure you know where they keep their data centers.
Stay On Top Of Developments In Your Industry
You absolutely must stay on top of the latest developments in your industry as a business owner. There will already be a set of standards and best practices that you must stick to in your industry when it comes to cyber security, but make sure you stay on top of new regulations so you avoid hefty fines. Not only this, you’re going to want to stay on top of dangerous developments, e.g. the cyber threats many are facing, and any systems designed to keep these at bay. Forums are a great place to start.
Researching New Technologies And Vendors Continuously
Staying up to date with best security practices, operators, vendors, and technologies is crucial. Update your software constantly, try out new tools, and do whatever you can to make sure your business is as safe as can be.
Don’t Get Too Confident
The fact is, you can’t ever get too cocky about avoiding cyber-attacks. You can assume that there’s always a new threat out there, or even a staff member that can be exploited. Assume you’re never safe so you can continue to take the correct steps and avoid getting complacent!
Shutterstock Photo / By Panchenko Vladimir