Cybersecurity 101: How to keep your business data safe

As technology evolves and becomes smarter, so do cybercriminals. No matter the size of the business, a simple data breach can have a crippling effect that may cost the business. Big names like Equifax have had to pay out a hefty sum of $700 million, in which millions of customer data were exposed. While financially, this may put a dent in the bank, it is the reputation of the business that will be extremely challenging to rebuild.

Although no silver bullet exists for cybersecurity risks, there is a lot you can do to protect your business from these threats.

Here are some insightful tips on how to improve the security posture of your business:

Train your staff on basic Internet safety

    • Limited personal and professional information posted on social media
    • Check your privacy settings on social media and on your browser
    • Keep safe while browsing by avoiding suspicious websites and downloads. Use an Adblocker where possible
    • Be wary of unsecured Internet connections, such as in public spaces and cafes
    • Choose strong passwords and regularly update your passwords to avoid being hacked
    • Utilise an up-to-date antivirus
    • Be vigilant when clicking on any links or attachments within an email

It is one thing to have all the necessary infrastructure for preventing cyber issues, and another completely different thing to have the policies in place. With formalised security policies, it will be easy for everyone who interacts with your business to know how they can help keep the business secure. Your policies can include issues like the use of unsanctioned IT applications, password management, document management, software updates, and access control.It should also outline how to vet vendors. Assuming that cloud vendors and software providers have your back is unwise. It pays to limit the risk that comes with outsourcing some of your business' tasks to vendors.


Back up your data & leverage the Cloud

While on-premise data centres can be effective, they come with a bevy of issues when compared to working in the cloud. If you can, migrate your data to the cloud. With the cloud, you can access company data from anywhere, mitigate security issues with advanced security systems, while removing the need to maintain physical servers.

Regardless of where you store your data, always back your data up. A simple malware or a mistake from one of your employees could easily lead to the loss of your data. In some cases, like the Wannacry Ransomware attack, your data might actually be held hostage by hackers. With a strong data backup routine, you can rise from such situations without damaging your brand or losing customers.

However, the intricacies of how you update your data also matter when looking to keep your business secure. Ideally, you should schedule backups between short periods of time. Also, ensure that you have someone in charge of the tasks to increase accountability. Use the three-two-one rule of data backup. This entails having at least three copies of your data; two should be stored on different media with one of them being stored off-site.

How does your IT team spend its time?

If your employees have weak account passwords, all the infrastructure you have invested in to protect your data might be in vain. Should a hacker guess or get a hold of these credentials, logging in to elevate account privileges would be as easy as logging in to your employees' accounts. In turn, it will be tough to identify any unauthorised personnel and threat once your hacker is camouflaged by an employee's account.

Instead, you should urge employees to create strong passwords, using alphanumeric characters. They should also not share their passwords with anyone else, and no two of their accounts should have the same password. For a better security system, your corporate accounts should use two-factor verification. This will require employees to input a one-time pin sent to their phones after inputting their passwords.

Prioritise updates

Sometimes, prompts for updating software or operating systems are treated as a nuisance by business owners. They see these updates as a non-essential task, but the truth is that they can improve your security posture. Software developers are often looking for loopholes in their software. Once they find vulnerabilities, they create patches and send them out to their customers in the form of updates.

Failure to make these updates will leave your organisation's data vulnerable to security threats. Make it a habit to update your software and systems. You should schedule software updates on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to avoid any issues down the line.

Train employees on security

Your security posture is as strong as your weakest point, and this trickles down to how aware your employees are about the intricacies of your organisation's security. Take time to train employees on data security and data loss prevention. They should understand how doing certain tasks will affect the security of the business and how to prevent incidents from happening.

Since you will rely on your employees to point out security breaches, they should also be trained in identifying them, as well as identifying threats like phishing attacks. Training sessions do not always have to be expensive and lengthy. Sometimes you can rely on gamification and micro-learning to ensure employees are engaged throughout the training sessions.

Cybersecurity threats can maim your business and lead to high customer churn rates in the blink of an eye. Instead of being reactive to these issues, you should be proactive at preventing them.