By Heather Stratford, CEO, Stronger International
Not every business can sustain a full-time cybersecurity professional to make sure that their computers and systems are protected against intrusions from bad actors in the cyber world. Nevertheless, businesses need to take steps to safeguard their systems from cyber threats. Every business—large or small—can greatly reduce their cyber risk by following a few simple guidelines.
- Back Up Data – As hard drives got bigger, many people became lazier. But, because of cyber threats, data backup is more important than ever. Make it a part of your schedule. One key strategy is to fight against a specific type of malware called ransomware, which literally holds your computer files ransom. You don’t really need a backup until something happens and you NEED a backup. Then it’s too late.There are many options available for backing up data, from external hard drives to cloud storage. If you use an external hard drive, make sure that when you are done backing up your data you secure it by disconnecting your hard drive in between updates and store it off-site in a safe place. Cloud storage is a great, efficient way to do a backup, especially if you have people working in remote locations; data can be easily accessed from anywhere.
- Update and Patch Software – Patching is an important part of keeping a computer or multiple computers healthy and operating well, and from a security perspective it is essential. It can be time consuming, but those annoying software updates aren’t there just to give you headaches, they often come with critical security updates. Cybersecurity professionals from software companies do their best to keep up with new cyber threats and patch weaknesses but they can’t help you if you don’t let the updates run.
- Control Access – If someone doesn’t need access to equipment or data – don’t give it to them! This can’t be stressed enough. Limit who has access to the computer or network.
- Educate Yourself and Your Employees – Security is for everyone. Simple security measures and phishing training should be emphasized and regularly reviewed. Everyone should know:
- How to recognize suspicious email
- Not to share jump drives between home and work
- How to create strong passwords
- How to secure equipment before they leave work
Many businesses focus on selling and providing services to customers while security becomes an afterthought. But, by 2021, it is estimated that the cybersecurity cost to organizations worldwide will reach $6 trillion dollars. Be wary of falling into the mentality that ‘it won’t happen to us.’ Just like routine maintenance is important for keeping your car running smoothly, preventative maintenance can make a big difference in reducing cyber risk. These four steps will protect your organization from many of the major cyber threats in the workplace.
Heather Stratford is the CEO of Stronger International, a cybersecurity firm specializing in training and compliance based in Spokane, WA. Please visit their website at stronger.tech or contract her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.