Tips for Data Security

As the world’s economy has become dependent upon computer networks, the Internet, electronic financial transactions, smart mobile devices, and the proliferation of Internet-capable electronics, cybercrime has become a major concern.  Tech-savvy criminals now prey upon organizations of all sizes, as well as individuals, to steal money and valuable data.  Take steps to maintain a secure, productive office by following these suggestions:

Select Passwords Carefully 

When creating a secure password, don’t use any information that could be obtained from public information sources or social media. As examples, do not use the following in a password:

  • The word “password” or any variation such as using numbers and symbols like @ or 0.
  • Do not use the same password for multiple accounts.  
  • Your name.
  • The name of a family member
  • Your company’s name
  • Your birthdate or wedding date
  • A family member’s birthdate or wedding date
  • A pet’s name

When you select a password, think to yourself, “What obvious words would a criminal guess to hack my password?”  Choose something else that no one would ever guess.  Long passwords work better than short passwords.  Choose a short phrase that’s easy to remember.  Adding numbers and symbols enhances your password security.

Virtually every application utilized in business today requires the internet and therefore would require a password.  With businesses using multiple applications and requiring multiple passwords, it would be prudent to utilize a secure random password generator and/or multifactor authentication to secure access to the needed applications.  To help you keep track of the many necessary passwords, it would only make sense to utilize a secure and encrypted password manager.  Contact XETX Business Solutions to get the correct solution for your organization.  

Train Your Employees

One of the weakest links in an organizations network security is their own employees.  The largest of companies equipped with the best security systems available are still vulnerable to attack through human error.  Persistently training employees in the importance of maintaining network security protocols as well as teaching them to identify cybercrime tactics is vital in today’s business world.  XETX Business Solutions can help you develop a training regimen for your employees and stay one step ahead of the cybercriminals.  

Harden Your Technology Defenses

The economy and the world runs on data, and one of the most valuable assets in any organization is the data collected and used to keep it running.  Keeping that data safe and secure is crucial to the financial success as well as the future existence of that organization.  XETX Business Solutions can help you design a network infrastructure to keep that data available for authorized access and secure from cybercrime attacks.  

Get A True Backup and Disaster Recovery Solution

Every organization does or should have an insurance policy to protect their physical property from natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. These policies protect that organization’s physical computer and networking hardware.  However, in the digital world, other disasters can occur in the form of ransomware or other viral attacks.  So just like a natural disaster, a digital disaster could cause an organization’s digital data to be lost forever.  Taking every step possible to safeguard a computer network and data from intrusion, does not necessarily make one completely immune from cybercrime.  The largest and best protected organizations have been victims of security breaches.  Cybercriminals are constantly uncovering previously unknown security holes in software and hardware and discovering new and innovative ways to exploit those holes to bypass and defeat security protocols.  Cybercriminals are very good at their craft, and their methods are diabolical.  

Once a system is successfully attacked by ransomware, the data is encrypted, and a message is displayed with instructions on how much and where to pay the ransom to have the data decrypted.  Paying the ransom does not completely ensure that the data will be decrypted.  In this situation, much like a natural disaster, the best protection is to implement a true back-up and disaster recovery solution.  With such a solution, your organization will be protected from natural disasters as well as cybercriminal disasters.  XETX Business Solutions is here to help you design and implement the best backup and disaster recovery solution to fit your organizations needs.  

Take Precautions with Social Media

Games and apps linked to social media sites are popular among many users.  Be wary of any game or app that asks any personal information that could compromise your security.  Whenever you take a popular quiz on social media (What will you look like in 20 years?, Which celebrity are you most like?, etc.) be aware that the information you enter will be used to market products and services to you, but could also be used to hack security passwords.
Check your social media privacy settings.  Any pictures, posts, or personal information that you make public could be used by criminals to hack into your accounts or even to break into your home or business.  Posting vacation pictures while you are out of town could tip off burglars to strike while you are away. Consider limiting your posts to friends, not the public.  Before you share any pictures or information on social media, think to yourself, “Could this be used to compromise the security of my data, home, or business?”

Be Naturally Suspicious of Unexpected Emails

Everyone with an email address is aware of “junk” mail.  The email providers are doing a better job of filtering many of these, nevertheless, our inboxes can still be inundated with these type emails.  Most “junk” mail can be identified pretty easily.  The problem comes when one receives an unexpected email with a link or attachment.  Be wary of unexpected emails that contain attachments or links, even if it’s from someone you may know.  If you weren’t expecting the email and looks out of the ordinary, then there is a higher probability that it may contain a viral load.  Cybercriminals often send emails that appear to be sent from a trusted source (such as your bank or credit card company).  If you receive an email that you weren’t expecting, you should be naturally suspicious.  Check the email address.  What is the domain name?  If it doesn’t exactly match the domain name of your trusted source, don’t click on it.  If an email you weren’t expecting directs you to make a financial transaction, even if it contains the name of someone you know, take a moment to call that person to confirm the email’s validity.  Taking precautions such as this can save you from making a very expensive mistake.

For more tips on cybersecurity, contact an XETX IT professional.  More information is also available at the following websites:

Sources:

U.S. Department of Homeland Security - National Cyber Awareness System – Tips

U.S. Department of Commerce – Ten Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses

Federal Communications Commission  - Cybersecurity for Small Business