Cybercrime is the greatest threat to companies at the moment, according to IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty. Whether you run a large or small business, you can be a victim of cyber attacks.
In fact, small businesses are more likely to become targets, as they don’t have the resources to invest in robust defense mechanisms against hackers and scams.
You need to come up with a plan to protect your company and the data that you own — which includes, among others, both your employees’ and customers’ information.
If you can’t guarantee protection for your data, you risk damaging your reputation in the market, which means lower customer retention rates, fewer chances to get new customers, and eventually decreasing revenues.
Here are five ways you can protect your customers’ information by planning and implementing a series of protection measures.
Create Strong Passwords
Safe passwords are essential elements of data protection. You can never be too precautious when you create and update your passwords — because yes, you have to change them once or twice a year.
A strong password is:
long – it should have at least 12 characters, 16 for increased protection;
complex – it should be a combination of symbols, uppercase and lowercase letters, and numbers;
unique – every account should have its password.
How will you remember such a long and complex password, without using usernames, IDs, or birth dates? You can either use a password generator and a password manager tool or come up with something that is easy to remember.
Here’s a trick: Let’s take the phrase “I hope my Mother-in-law moves to Australia in 2019.” You can turn this into a secure password by putting together the first letters of every word: ‘IhmM-i-lmtAi2019.’
Encourage your employees to use strong passwords for all their accounts — professional and personal. Ask them to change passwords periodically and update them in a password manager, to make sure no one wastes working hours looking for the right combination of letters to enter the system.
Encrypt Your Data
Encryption makes your data unreadable for unauthorized users, whether you store it in your computers or the cloud. The process uses mathematical algorithms to scramble the information in your files and folders. To access the encrypted data, you need a key.
You can use Microsoftbit Locker or rely on a third-party encryption software to protect your customers’ data. In both cases, this measure helps you protect the data, but it doesn’t work as a shield against viruses and malware. You’ll still need a second layer of protection to counter attacks.
When you encrypt your data, you must train your employees to protect the information they send through emails or USB devices–which no longer benefit from the encryption once it leaves your system.
If you have blog or business website then it’s great to add SSL certificate for encryption. SSL certificate encrypts information transfer between browser and server. It will protect your customer data from hackers.
There are types of SSL certificates available in market. You can choose one as per your requirements. Like, If you have website with many sub domains then Wildcard SSL Certificate is perfect for you. This certificate saves you money and time by securing your domain and unlimited sub-domains on a single certificate.
Create and Implement a Disaster Recovery Plan
A disaster recovery plan is a set of precise instructions that you must put together for your employees to follow in the case of a security breach or cyber attack.
In simple words, you must teach your employees how to handle a cyber attack before it happens. Furthermore, you must have backup solutions to keep your company moving even if your system has been turned off the attack.
This way, you make sure your machines and employees can still do their jobs even if your cybersecurity has been compromised.
The team that is responsible for creating and implementing the disaster recovery plan should include members from all departments: security, management, IT, risk management, and building maintenance.
If you manage multiple locations, make sure you have a disaster plan for each of your sites. As every facility is different, you need to come up with customized solutions for each location, to minimize loss.
Run An Antivirus Program
Protect all your devices to reduce the risks. For everyone’s safety, all computers that get connected to the company’s system should have anti-malware protection installed.
It’s important to choose an antivirus software that can protect you and your customers’ information. Here are some features you should look for when getting such software:
All-inclusive protection – it includes, among others, protection against cybercrime when your employees browse the internet, protection against ransomware, firewall protection, and VPN protection against third-party monitoring.
Automate security scans – look for a software that allows you to schedule ahead regular scans.
Updated protection – your antivirus should update itself regularly, even several times a day.
High usability – invest in a product that can be easily used by your non-technical employees.
Little performance impact – the antivirus shouldn’t have negative effects on your processes.
Excellent customer support – the antivirus provider should give you support and training for your employees, if necessary.
Train Your Employees Regularly
The 2016 State of the Endpoint Report revealed that employees are the greatest source of endpoint risk in a company. In most cases, we talk about negligence, usage of unsecured personal devices for work purposes, and little interest in following security policies.
You need must teach your staff how to protect the information your company owns. Organize training to keep your employees updated about the latest risks and most effective methods to counter them.
Furthermore, to protect personal client information, make sure you implement the latest technology you can afford. This way, you won’t be an easy target for hackers.
In the digital era, you can’t afford to ignore cyber security. It’s a vital element in your company, so make sure you implement best practices to protect your customers’ information. Better yet, organize a disaster recovery plan and try to remain updated about the latest technologies to stay ahead of hackers.