Protecting You and Your Business From Hackers
The Information Age is pushing more businesses to rely on their digital devices to grow and operate. In fact, recent surveys have revealed that over 89% of organizations have started adopting digital-first business strategies.
As information technology becomes more integral to your business, it becomes more reliant on Internet-connected devices, vast networks of computers, smartphones, and peripherals. While your business ups its efficiency, you should also consider how those devices impact your cybersecurity.
Each device presents another vulnerability to be exploited by hackers, so it pays dividends to stay informed of the best practices to keep you and your business safe.
Hackers: Who Are They?
Hackers are computer experts that want to compromise the cybersecurity of your Internet-connected devices. Those devices hold a treasure trove of valuable information: bank account numbers, credit card information, and passwords to your online accounts. Your phone or tablet being breached could spell serious damage to your business’s network or finances.
How Do They Do It?
Hackers steal your information by utilizing the same technology your business uses every day, compromising your devices’ safety through spyware.
“Spyware” refers to software that sends information from your Internet-connected devices to an external source. That information could be anything, from the buttons pushed by your keyboard to entire images of your screen throughout the day. Malicious software is covertly installed on your devices when you accidentally click the wrong link or enter the wrong website. For instance, spam emails often carry attachments that seem like desirable data on the surface (like a file you are expecting from a client) but end up being spyware installers.
The other way hackers like compromising security are through websites themselves. Social media seems innocent, but a cracked password could be giving hackers your name, address, date of birth, and other important details that can help them breach your cybersecurity elsewhere.
It’s a lot to process and might feel overwhelming when you count up all the devices you use every day. The good news is that many of these vulnerabilities are easy to address!
Just a few hours of updating your passwords, installing the right software, and taking other cybersecurity precautions could save you a headache (and a fortune) in the long run.
Protect Your Computer
- Invest in anti-virus and anti-malware software. Despite 2019 and 2020 showing below-average volume in malware attacks, that “below-average volume” still amounts to a staggering 4.8 billion malware attacks in the first six months of 2019 alone. This makes anti-virus and anti-malware security suites a prime investment for your business. For prices as low as $4 per device (often with a free trial offered before you buy), security software could protect your business from nasty online malware in real-time, as well as providing additional services like regular system scans and quarantine clouds for suspicious files.
- Keep your software updated. Security software is great, but only if you make sure it’s kept up-to-date, like all software. Security protocols change quickly in the world of IT, so taking the time to restart your computer now and again to install software updates can mean preventing vulnerabilities from remaining on your system for hackers to exploit.
Protect Your Phone
- Keep your phone locked. It’s easy to lose your phone when you’re caught up in the hustle and bustle of the business world. That’s not even counting thefts: in 2018, smartphones and tablets made up 73% of stolen mobile devices. Putting a strong password on your phone could make confidential information on your phone stay confidential in the event of a loss.
- Be careful with third-party apps. The widespread use of smartphones has made them a breeding ground for malware-filled smartphone apps. If you can, stick to official, vetted apps from your phone’s app store. If you’re ever required to install a third-party app by another program or service, listen to your gut and run it by an IT professional.
Protect Your Network
- If you’re not using the internet, disconnect your device. When you’re idle with your smartphone or tablet, be sure to turn off Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity. As long as those features are switched on, your devices could appear in network scans and subsequently targeted by hackers probing the network.
- Keep your network devices anonymous. This one is pretty straightforward. Naming your router “John Doe Wi-Fi” gives criminals your full name, the information they can use to try cracking your passwords. Worse, some router models come with default names that signify default passwords, making hackers’ jobs even easier. Change your network devices’ names and keep yourself anonymous whenever you can.
Protect Your Accounts
- Create new, strong passwords. According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 81% of hacking incidents involve compromised passwords. Some users reuse the same password up to fourteen times! This means that one lost password could mean up to fourteen compromised accounts. The solution: always use different, strong passwords for your online accounts. The more varied and intricate your passwords are, the less likely hackers will be able to force their way past it.
- Use external authentication services. Multifactor authentication is a relatively new invention and provides a powerful level of redundancy for your account logins. How it works is that when you log in to your online account, the account will require a randomly generated code sent to your phone, email address, or a third-party app. That code is unique and only valid for a short period of time, ensuring that hackers will be unable to get past it unless they have access to your phone or email address.
In Case of Hacking
- Call IT. Pretty simple. Disconnect your device from the internet and report the hacking to an official, safe IT service—that part is important, as hackers often impersonate IT, professionals themselves.
- Change your passwords. Chances are, your hacked device places your passwords in jeopardy. As soon as your device is safe and clean of viruses again, change your passwords, starting with the most important online accounts (ex. your financial institutions).
- Be on the lookout. Hackers are patient, so always monitor your important online accounts. Just because the threat of a virus has disappeared for the time being doesn’t mean that the threat of hacking has. A week or two later, you might see a credit card charge from a scrupulous criminal trying to cash in on your information.
- Warn the rest of your staff. Emails come in bundles. You clicking on a spyware-infested link might mean that others have done the same. Warning IT and other staff can help to prevent spyware from doing its dirty work.
While this seems like a lot of information to take in, these are practices that IT solutions providers handle every day.
Here at PNJ Technology Partners, we are always ready to help your business meet its cybersecurity needs, protecting it from hackers and finding the right solutions to keep it functioning securely in an increasingly digital world.