It is no secret that cybercrime is as prevalent as ever, with numerous different scams and viruses circulating at any one time.
This can pose a significant threat to both you and your business because while a personal attack can be hugely damaging if a cyber-attack infiltrates your business, it could severely damage the reputation of the brand, and leave both employee and customer data at risk of being stolen.
Understandably, this is not something that you want to risk happening, especially when it is relatively straightforward to protect yourself from cyber threats. Simply understanding what the various threats are, taking appropriate action and educating your employees on the dangers of cyber-attacks can be enough to put you in a strong position for protecting yourself and your company.
Here are some top tips for keeping your business safe online:
1. Understand what the worst threats are
The number one step you can take for protecting you and your business from cyber threats is to have a clear understanding of what the threats are exactly. Just as you can’t protect yourself from a physical attacker if you don’t know when or how they are going to attack you, you will leave yourself vulnerable to online scams if you can’t recognize the way they usually work.
For example, one of the most prevalent forms of cyber-attacks are phishing scams. These are usually emails sent by scammers to trick you into handing over sensitive information, such as your bank details and other personal information that they can either use to sell on or to threaten you with sharing.
The way these scammers usually con you is by posing as respected individuals or institutions, such as your bank, government or insurance firm. Your guard naturally comes down when you think the email is sent by a trustworthy source, especially if they claim that you have either lost or won money, which you will be eager to hear more about.
Normally, they will leave a link or input box at the bottom where they ask you to fill in your sensitive details. Once you do this you essentially hand over that information to the attacker.
Despite its simplicity, a phishing scam neatly summarizes the scale of threat that cyber scams pose. This is because cyber scams prey on the blind spots in human psychology, working like traditional scam artists to misdirect, lie, and manipulate you into handing over information or leave your device vulnerable to attack.
If you want to find out more about phishing scams, click here.
2. Be cynical rather than naive when online
In general, cyber scammers prey on victims who are ignorant about cyber threats, distracted, vulnerable or otherwise too preoccupied to realize what is really going on. It’s why most scams shake you up with shocking news before they ask you to do their bidding – it misdirects your attention elsewhere, leaving you open to attack.
Therefore, be cynical rather than naive when online. While everyone wants to be open minded about the people or websites they come across on the internet, you should constantly question what you are looking at or who you are talking to, to ensure that you are fully in control over your thoughts, actions and emotions.
Some people believe that they are too clever to fall victim to cyber scams, but no one is above being tricked at the wrong moment. It is best to have a degree of humility and keep an eye out at all times.
3. Educate your staff on the dangers of cyber crime
Of course, if you are in control of a business, it is not just yourself that you have to look out for. Unfortunately, the majority of security threats facing companies come from within their organizations, meaning that it is your employees you should most focus your attention when tackling cybercrime.
This is not to say that a member of your team is a hacker, only that without the right guidance, one of your members of staff could leave the door open to a cyber scammer to work their way in.
To deal with this, you should consider educating your team on the dangers posed by cybercrime, the techniques they use and how to spot a scam. Furthermore, you could encourage them to regularly change their passwords, ensure passwords are difficult to crack, and prevent too many staff members gaining control over sensitive files or passwords.
Far from being distrustful of your team, this simply reduces the chance of human error that can befall anyone. If a member of staff left their smartphone in the back of a taxi, with all your most confidential passwords on it, then you could easily face a huge breach of security.
4. Don’t leave sensitive data unprotected online
One of the most basic ways you can protect yourself against cyber threats is to keep your sensitive data protected online. There is nothing wrong with storing your data online, as it is generally safer than storing it in real world filing cabinets (which run the risk of fire or theft, as well as potentially steep storage costs). However, you have to be careful about where you store your data online.
Arguably the safest place to store your sensitive data is on a cloud-based platform. This is because it allows you to keep it separate from your devices, meaning that if an attacker compromised your laptop, they wouldn’t be able to automatically access your personal or company data.
However, a cloud account is only as safe as the password you give it, so make sure you change it regularly, make sure it is suitably difficult to guess, and only share it with a trusted inner circle (if at all).
5. Use antivirus software
It should go without saying, but you should keep all your personal and corporate devices safe using high-quality antivirus software. There are many different types of antivirus software, each covering different areas, such as spyware, malware and safe searches.
If possible, it is best to upgrade to the most comprehensive service possible, because you cannot be too safe, especially if your business is on the line.