More and more, companies are using the Internet to exchange sensitive information and promote their products. Although many business leaders know that cyber security is often a major flaw in their business model, it is often overlooked (to the delight of cybercriminals). We will see in this article the different potential cyber attacks and the means to protect yourself from them.
Cyber attacks: the risk of exposure
Here is a list of the information most wanted by cybercriminals:
- Credit card numbers of your customers.
- Customer information (passwords, identifiers, contact information, sales history).
- Your contact lists
- Information about your employees (including email addresses and passwords).
- Your company’s banking information.
Hackers can also intrude into your computer systems in order to compromise your servers and infect your computers with viruses or other malware programs. The purpose of a hacker is not always clear; they may simply be targeting your business for fun or to demonstrate their skills.
Establish computer safety guidelines
You must establish a clear policy regarding the use of the Internet within your company. It is advisable to restrict access to certain websites (download areas, adult sites, etc.). Also, inform your employees about software to put into place in order to limit computer attacks. Make sure to also ask them to use a strong password (minimum 8 characters and including special characters such as !,+=)@&?). It is important to change your password every 90 days.
Regarding the use of emails, it is advisable to:
- Ask employees to limit personal emails sent from their business addresses. This will limit attacks from personal contacts. Keep in mind that even if you protect yourself from computer attacks, it only takes one of your contacts to be attacked in order for you to become exposed. In other words, no one is 100% protected.
- Inform employees about the appropriate time to share their email address. Addresses should be given only to trusted contacts and organizations.
- If your email address is published online, it is better to avoid using the @ symbol and instead use the following form: name at yourcompany dotcom. If you think it’s too complicated or if this practice is likely to cause confusion, you can also put your email address in image format to prevent spam generators from extracting your email address.
- Prohibit employees from opening and responding to suspicious emails. It is also important not to open any attachments that they may contain.
Take the necessary precautions
- Inform your employees about cybercrime. Even if you install the best software available, you will not be protected if your employees are not aware of the precautions to take for example if they click on any window that appears on their screen.
- Update your operating system and protection software. Most software updates are related to security. Although they may take time, it is important to enable them to always have the latest updated version.
- Install appropriate security software
Even if there is free software available to protect your personal computer, it is advisable to opt for a paid version with regard to your company. Compare the different offers or call a company specializing in computer security.
- Enable your firewall
A firewall protects your internal computer networks from threats that are on the Internet. It is important to make sure it is enabled on all desktop computers, laptops and anything else that can connect to your network.
- Secure your wireless networks
If you do not secure your wireless network, not only do you offer Internet access to everyone but you also offer a nice gateway to all hackers. Make sure your network hides SSIDs and encrypt your network with strong passwords (as explained earlier in this article), and change the default administrator password often.
- Carefully select your administrators
Administrators are the people who can change network settings (passwords, configuration etc.) and maintain your systems. It is therefore recommended that this task be entrusted only to members of management, and trusted persons who work for the company.
- Pay attention to USB flash drives
Although they are very handy for transferring documents from one computer to another, they can also contain malicious software and compromise the security of your computers. Indeed, many employees use them for both business and personal purposes. It is therefore important to inform employees about these risks and to ask them to run analysis of their USB keys (with your anti virus software) on a regular basis.
- Make backups regularly
It is very important to back up your documents and all your important data on a regular basis. This will protect you not only from possible cyber attacks but also from nuisances caused from server crashes or simply a problem with your computer (loss, breakage, theft).
We hope that these tips will help to protect against cyber attacks. Many companies get attacked every day because of very simple security breaches. Of course, they never communicate or draw attention to the attacks they have suffered because that would be advertising to hackers and putting a target on their customers. So do not think you’re safe on the pretext that you never hear about computer attacks. Everyone is exposed!
If you liked this article, you might also like this one: Control your reputation on the Internet.