I’m sure by now you are well aware of businesses getting hacked, data getting breached and many not really knowing what to do about it.
Cybersecurity experts predict that cybercrime will cost nearly 6 trillion dollars annually by 2021. That is, 6 trillion dollars in stolen money, lost productivity, ransomware recoveries and deleted data. Virtually everyone will experience it in one shape or form (if you haven’t already).
The big issue is that there are ways today to protect yourself and your business from cyberattacks. These methods are not perfect, but if you layer them one on top of the other, you make it increasingly difficult for hackers to breach your data.
Imagine you were layering Swiss cheese (think of each slice as a layer of protection for your data security). With one layer, everyone can see the holes. But as you keep layering those slices, those holes cover each other up quite a bit. After two or three layers and you can no longer see any openings.
The same thing can be said for your personal and network security. If we were to look at specific behaviors, strategies and tactics that those who have never been victims of a cyberattack or data breach have in common, we’d quickly see that there are proven ways—when put together—protect your information from getting breached.
Below are ten ways to successfully secure your data and protect your network:
Avoid the HTTP URL
HTTP might be slightly old news at this point, but it still is a problem. Secured websites today use URLs that have HTTPS appended in front of the URL. Essentially the ‘S’ indicates that the website securely is transmitting information that you might type into forms online. HTTP websites are much cheaper to host, but they will transmit information unprotected. Best practice is to check whether a site is HTTPS whenever you are inputting information into a web form.
Trust Your Apps
Let’s be crystal clear—not all applications are created equal. In fact, apps that are more security-focused might be hard to evaluate, as vulnerabilities may linger in how a software developer designed his or her code.
But when I’m talking about apps here, I am assuming that the application was coded securely. More often than I’d like to admit, applications are hitch-hiked by viruses, malware and key loggers. Before downloading software, make sure you trust the source. Online, most of us trust downloads too much. Best to opt out of an easy button piece of software if you don’t know much about the website that is offering it (this goes for phone apps as well!).
Use A VPN
VPNs have been our go-to for secure connections over the past several years. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) makes sure that your data is encrypted across an internet connection. You can choose your connection to not allow sharing—which further protects your transmitted data from hackers.
Avoid Your Debit Card
If you’ve heard bank fraud cases recently (bank fraud is a hot topic within cybersecurity), you may have realized that a lot of fraud is related to skimming debit cards from point of sale machines like gas stations and food stores. Since a debit card is linked directly to your bank accounts, it puts you at risk of compromising an account and all within it. Security experts recommend using a credit card for purchases (something you can more easily contest if compromised).
Use Multi-Factor Authentication
At this point, a lot of your personal accounts (especially in banking) may already offer two-factor authentication to verify your login attempt. Many send a text message containing a multi-digit code to verify you are truthfully who you say you are. Multi-factor authentication is useful to protect sensitive accounts (personal and work-related).
Protect Your Credit Card Info
One of the go-to’s for hackers breaking onto personal computers is to steal the information stored in browsers. If you have passwords and credit card information auto-saved in your browser, consider that data stolen. People that are successful at securing their identities shy away from saving information within browsers.
Lock Out Lost Devices
If your device—say laptop, USB, or phone—has company data on it, best practice is to make sure that it has lock out capability. You should immediately go to your IT department or provider immediately to disable your account on that device. This will essentially wipe sensitive information from a stolen device when it checks in somewhere (for instance, when someone attempts a login).
Protect Your Passwords
Protecting your passwords may take some behavioral changes on your part. Make sure you are not using password defaults (for instance, on your home router). Make sure to change passwords routines (we recommend at least quarterly) and have a way to keep track of your passwords in a password management system (not in a Word or Excel document).
The Tip Of The Iceberg
There are a TON of ways that you can keep your personal information secure and many of these practices keep your workplace safer, too. One of the easiest ways into identifying how you and your team might be able to improve is by evaluating your network for common errors.