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Cybersecurity 101: Tips for Keeping your Information Safe

 

By: Katie Perkins 

November 29, 2018 

With increased numbers of cyber attacks throughout the past years, increased cybersecurity is crucial for businesses to succeed. According to the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, a commitment to cyber hygiene and best practices is crucial in protecting an organization and its users from cyber threats. To kickstart this commitment to cyber health, follow this list of recommendations to help keep your devices safe.

  1. Know what email scams are
    1. Email is far-too-often used to deliver unwanted materials to your devices, including spam and phishing emails. Spam emails are unsolicited junk mail, while phishing emails pretend to come from organizations you think you can trust. Phishing is especially dangerous as the scams are aimed at convincing you to forfeit your personal information such as credit card numbers or Social Security number. As a general rule, never open attachments contained in emails from unreliable sources, and refrain from responding as well.
  2. Backup your files
    1. Every organization and individual should develop a backup & recovery plan for data on hardware. Consider automatically backing up all classified data immediately, or at least weekly, to reduce the risk of losing anything. You should also store a copy either within the cloud or another external storage medium, such as USB.
  3. Utilize secure external device tools
    1. With the increased ability to work from external devices comes an increased need to protect your overall systems. One way to ensure your company devices are in sync and have the same security measures is by utilizing unified communication tools and cloud capabilities, such as those from 8x8. Without these tools, there’s a much higher chance that your employees’ devices are not properly protected and vulnerable to hacks.
  4. Establish policies & educate your employees
    1. Write down how you want employees to handle and protect classified information, and educate them on these expectations. Clearly outline the consequences of breaking these policies in an employee handbook.
  5. Install anti-spyware & antivirus
    1. As a company, be sure to load your devices up with anti-spyware and antivirus software to make it more difficult for criminals to access and steal your personal information. Running antivirus programs allows you to stay one step ahead of cyberthieves by monitoring security holes in your devices and reporting on unusual activity the moment it occurs.
  6. Use strong passwords
    1. Make sure you are password-protecting all devices and applications, and using strong passwords as well. Strong passwords have at least eight characters, a combination of letters, numbers and symbols, and are unique for each site or application you use.
  7. Lock down your network
    1. When setting up a wireless network, install firewall and encryption, and ensure that your Wifi connection is secure and hidden. The Mississippi Department of Information Technology Systems says that in order to minimize the risk of compromising information, you should change the default password, change the Service Set Identified name, or the name of your network, and use the MAC filtering feature.
  8. Assign administrator and. non-admin accounts
    1. Give different access to employees, management and executives. Grant those in leadership positions with administration access, which gives more control over programs and settings on company computers. On the other hand, non-administrator accounts can still use programs, but their access to making changes is limited. One important thing to remind your employees of, however, is to change the default admin password to keep classified information secure.

Taking these precautions to keep your business’ classified information safe will provide peace of mind that your data will not be stolen by cyber thieves. Be sure not to wait until a disaster occurs to implement safety procedures, or you could wind up regretting it.