When it comes to cybercrime, the reality is, it can happen to any business. From malware and hackers, to spammers and online predators, it’s especially crucial to have your wits about you when you’re doing business from home and don’t have an IT person looking after your digital security.
Here are some simple tips that will help keep your business information safe:
1. Don't take the bait
Heard of phishing emails? These are emails sent by cyber attackers that trick you into providing sensitive information, open attachments, or click on links. Most of the time, the email looks like it’s been sent from a legitimate source (like someone you know), or a real company.
However, these phishing emails can contain malware, ransomware, dodgy links, and other nasty business. Even with solid spam filtering software, malicious emails can still get through to your inbox.
Be extra wary of emails asking you for personal or business information, financial details of clients, or explaining that you’ve won something. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is! Other warning signs include threats, bad spelling and grammar, and files with an “exe” extension.
Don’t be afraid to double check anything you think may be suspicious. For example, if a call or email claims to be from a bank, there is no problem with you making a phone call to your bank to double check the validity of the request before doing anything.
2. Strengthen your passwords
Still using the same password for all your business accounts? It’s time to make a change! If someone grabs hold of your precious password, they can start imitating you or gain access to your private information. However, with all your social media accounts, bank accounts and online shopping accounts, how do you make sure your passwords are strong and secure?
The key here is to use a password storage tool such as LastPass. This handy tool can create complex passwords for each of your accounts, and all you need to do is remember one master password. It’s simple and safe.
Adopting multi-factor authentication (MFA) is also a good idea. You can use a tool like DUO which will only grant a user access if they can successfully provide several separate pieces of evidence to the authentication mechanism.
3. Keep your private information close
Just like your passwords, you should never share sensitive information online – not unless you absolutely need to through authorised sources and to authorised people.
The general rule of thumb? Don’t give out the type of information that an online predator or stranger could use against you – especially on social media. This includes your address, the neighbourhood you live in, the name of your school or university, or any sensitive personal and financial information.
If you want to be extra safe when sending sensitive information to someone, use a web app such as Privnote. This simple online tool allows you to send information via a web link that will self-destruct (that’s right – Mission Impossible style) after the intended recipient reads it.
4. Check for updates
Make a habit of regularly checking that your apps, operating system (OS), and anti-malware software are always up to date. Most computers available on the market should have solid in-built security already, but it’s still worth bulking up your protection with extra anti-malware software.
When it comes to updating your OS, it’s best to do so as soon as the upgrades are available. For Apple devices, this means installing to the latest macOS. To keep your Microsoft system as safe as possible, you’ll need to have the most current Windows installation running on your computer. This goes for your iPhone or Android device too - we strongly recommend you install the latest software updates as soon as they are available.
5. Remember to back everything up
What would you do if you lost all your data, or a nasty virus infiltrated your computer and stole sensitive files? You can’t always stop a cyber disaster from happening, but you can certainly be prepared for one.
To save yourself stress and money, make sure you regularly back up all your important files and data. You might choose to use an external hard drive, sign up to a cloud service such as Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud – or both. If you’re unsure about how to back up your computer there are a ton of forums out there or chat to your computer retailer, they should be able to help.
About the Author:
Daniel Weis is the Lead Penetration Tester and Head of Security Services at Kiandra IT with over 22 years’ experience in IT, in a range of different industries, and heads up Kiandra’s team of Cyber Security Experts, proactively assessing company and government networks to increase their security posture and not become the next "headline".