When it comes to cyberthreats, prevention is the best policy. Here are the top 5 tips for maintaining good cybersecurity to ensure that your business stays safe online.
Always update your software
We’re all quite familiar with the “Remind me later” button, and although sometimes you really can’t stop for an hour to update your computer, it’s important to get updates done sooner rather than later.
Software vendors release updates and patches to fix vulnerabilities when they discover them, but this also makes the vulnerability known to cybercriminals who begin working to exploit it. This race against the clock makes it critical to regularly check for updates for your operating systems and other trusted software and install them as soon as possible.
Use strong passwords
When it comes to passwords, the strongest ones are long, unique, and hard to guess. Here are some tips on how to create a strong password.
- Use 15 to 20 characters or more. Length is your best defense. Each additional character in your password massively increases its potential combinations, which in turn greatly prolongs the amount of time needed to guess and steal your password.
- Use multiple character types. There’s a reason more organizations are requiring passwords to be made with both uppercase and lowercase letters as well as symbols and numbers. When you include all character types, you maximize the amount of possibilities per character, which makes your password harder to crack.
- Avoid common character substitutions. Hackers program their cracking software to account for typical character swaps, like “0” instead of “O.” “410|\|3” is as easy to crack as “ALONE”.
- Go beyond QWERTY. Memorable keyboard paths like “qwerty” or “asdf” are no harder to crack than regular words. A password that relies on one of these is far from secure.
- Create your password using passphrases. Chain multiple words together to create extra-long passphrases that are highly resistant to both dictionary attacks and standard brute-force attempts. Make sure the words in it have no obvious connection to each other. Password cracking software can guess related words, but random words will stump it.
Add an additional layer of security to your accounts by using multi-factor authentication (MFA), which requires two or more factors of authentication to access a system. These might include passwords, PINs, facial or voice recognition, fingerprints, and phone notifications.
Use a VPN
VPN stands for “virtual private network” — a service that helps you stay private online. A VPN establishes a secure, encrypted connection between your computer and the internet, providing a private tunnel for your data and communications while you use public networks.
Without a VPN, your IP address (a special number unique to your home network) is visible to the web. A VPN masks your IP address by acting as an intermediary and rerouting your traffic. It also adds encryption, or a tunnel around your identity, as you connect. The combination of the VPN server and the encryption tunnel blocks your internet service providers, governments, hackers, and anyone else from spying on you as you navigate the web.
Avoid unfamiliar attachments and strange links
Only open attachments you’re expecting to receive from people you trust, and don’t click on any suspicious links. One common method used by cybercriminals is phishing — any kind of telecommunications fraud that tricks people into giving away private data.
Examples of phishing scams include emails with links to malicious websites, fake websites used to steal your login credentials, text messages prompting you to download an obscure app, and hacked social media accounts spreading infected links.
The prevalence of phishing scams is just one of the many reasons why employee training on cybersecurity best practices is so important. People are often the weakest link in successful cyberattacks. Those with an understanding of the basics of cybersecurity will be better equipped to protect themselves and the company they work for.
Get multi-layered protection
By implementing multiple layers of cybersecurity, you’ll make it more difficult for cyberattackers to infiltrate your business. Consider combining cybersecurity solutions like antivirus, patch management, cloud backup, and others to ensure that your business devices and data are secure against cyberthreats.