3 Easy Ways Your Practice Can Prevent Cyber-attacks
Just last summer, CNBC reported that 14 million US small businesses are at risk of being hacked.
Yes, you read that right: 14 MILLION. That’s simply mind-boggling: 50% of small businesses in the US are vulnerable to cyber-attack. Consider the small business on your left and on your right. Chances are, one of them will fall victim to a cyber-attack of some sort. Furthermore, chances are that the same thing applies to you.
So what can small businesses do to protect themselves from these sorts of attacks? Think about a more tangible scenario: how do you prevent your home from being burglarized? You take various measures to make your home a less inviting target. Install a security system. Lock doors when you aren’t home. Don’t advertise to the world when you’re going on vacation. Simple stuff like that adds up and has a cumulative effect of making you less likely to fall victim.
The same thing applies to preventing cyber-attacks. Every measure your company takes to improve your digital security lowers your risk of being hacked. Here are 3 simple practices that any business owner or CEO can do:
Insist on Strong(er) Passwords: It amazes me just how many companies have really bad password practices. Some employees have been using the same simple passwords for years. We’re talking about pet names, favorite movies, or even the classic “password1”. Now to be fair, people use those types of passwords because they tend to be easier to remember than something like G4x$!-tAsB%&24#, and we all know our time and our employees’ time is at a premium. However, there is room to find a balance between passwords that are easy to remember for the user and tough to crack for the hacker. This article gives some great tips on that front. Of all the possible methods for creating safe AND memorable passwords, we recommend the “long passphrase” method. Randomness and length are the 2 key things that are capable of foiling password hackers. And let’s be honest, isn’t it kind of fun to come up with funny phrases like “Vincent tells tacos to fast forward cats”?
Require Locked Workstations: If you were going to leave your home, office or car unattended, you’d probably lock it, right? So why wouldn’t businesses follow the same practice when it comes to the various workstations that have access to their internal network, where so much of their sensitive information is located? Train your employees on how to “lock” their workstations (it’s actually pretty simple), and maybe even provide each computer in your company with a sticker that says something like “Don’t forget to lock your workstation!”
Create a Culture of Vigilance: Your company exists to turn a profit, not to micromanage digital security practices. So how can you stay strong in this area when you’re already busy enough as it is? What if you just took 5 minutes every week to send out a short note regarding digital security? This could be something as simple as linking to a recent story about a company that was hacked or a reminder to change your password on a monthly basis. Part of the solution is simply letting your employees know on a regular basis that digital security matters to you. If you do this, it’s a good practice to “spot check” your employees for those who read the latest article. Perhaps a day after you send it out, you stop and ask someone what they thought of the article. As you do this more and more, your employees will start to understand that these things matter to you, and you will be on your way to creating a culture of IT security in your business.
In conclusion, we believe that even a little bit of awareness on this front can go a long way toward keeping your company from being just another statistic. Yet even so, the best possible solution is to hire a team of digital security experts to “watch your six” and patrol the city walls for you.