The past few years have witnessed a massive increase in data breaches. In 2021, the average corporate breach cost a staggering $4.24 million. The price in terms of consumer trust has been incalculable. With so much at stake, business owners need to know how to keep data out of the hands of cybercriminals. Here are six easy steps to improve your cybersecurity.
1. Trust No One
Geography is no longer a barrier to cybercrime. Decentralized computing on the cloud and through mobile environments lets hackers strike from anywhere. Robocallers can even spoof local area codes to con people out of their money and identity. The solution is to implement a zero trust security policy on your networks. Zero trust architecture means verifying every user that accesses your network, ideally through mutual authentication. It includes limiting user access to the minimum needed for any given task. On the digital frontier, trust has to be earned.
2. Install Advanced Antivirus Programs
The first line of any digital defense is a high-quality antivirus suite. Antivirus programs should be installed on any device used for business purposes. If you deal with high volumes of email (and most companies do), consider adding a firewall system. These create a barrier between your network and exterior ones, filtering out emails that might be laden with malware. With ransomware attacks at an all-time high, now might be the best time to boost your protection.
3. Secure All Endpoints Equally
One issue unique to the modern workplace is the number and diversity of devices used for business purposes. These devices rarely have the same degree of protection, and if one of them becomes compromised, so can the whole network. The concept of endpoint security centers around getting all users on the same page regarding network security. Any device connected to your network should be held to the same standards of compliance. Software should be updated regularly, and antivirus software of middling quality should get an upgrade. Everyone needs to put equal effort into keeping networks secure.
4. Insist on Better Password Protocol
Weak passwords have always played a major role in security incidents. People naturally want to create passwords that are easy to remember. Nobody wants to use a different password for each portal they have to go through, either. Unfortunately, this makes compromising those passwords easier for criminals. Passwords should be more than eight characters in length, and should ideally consist of a mix of numbers, symbols, and letters. Never use the same password for two different purposes. If one of them succumbs to a lucky guess, more systems will be at risk.
5. Take Vital Data Off the Grid
According to IBM, the true cost of a breach is $161 for each record compromised. The fewer vital records there are online for criminals to access, the lower the cost of recovery if a breach does take place. Consider using flash drives stored behind locked doors or in a combination safe after close-of-business. Many of these portable storage devices now come equipped with biometric locks as a bonus. It’s not always easy to migrate data out of the cloud, but knowing the exact location of your data can be a tremendous help.
6. Educate Your Employees
A study by security company Tessian revealed that 43% of employees admitted to making a mistake that compromised company security. The solution is to train hard and train often. Teach everyone to stay alert for red flags during phone calls or email communications. Train workers not to overlook gaps in physical security like failing to shred sensitive documents before throwing them out. Teach everyone how the latest scams work and how to avoid them.
No single solution will guarantee online safety. Staying protected is a product of everyone staying aware of the threats and then taking the next steps.