It’s easy to dismiss this concern to a degree, thinking that you’re too small, that hackers wouldn’t have any interest in you and/or your business. But even the smallest web presence can be of value to advanced hacking syndicates.
Here are three things you need to do to protect you and your business from cyber attacks.
1. Don’t click on links from unknown accounts
This is the most obvious one, yet it’s still the most common way hackers get access to information. All those high-profile hacks – the celebrity nude photo incident in 2014, the brand social media accounts being taken over and used to spread propaganda – virtually every one of these incidents came as a result of someone unwittingly clicking a dubious link.
While hacking can seem like a high-tech world of intricate code editing - and the realm of highly evolved web masterminds - more often than not, it’s the simplest thing that lets hackers in.
Don’t open links from suspicious sources. Always check the email addresses that send you requests for information. If it seems fishy – there are spelling mistakes or odd wording, things that raise a red flag – it probably is.
This is the number one cyber-security tip.
2. Update your passwords regularly
Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had his social accounts hacked, with the group claiming responsibility reporting that his password was ‘dadada’.
Zuckerberg’s password was actually gleaned from a hack of LinkedIn, in which the passwords of more than 100 million users were accessed and sold on the black market. So while Zuckerberg’s password was weak (a major no-no), that wasn’t the key problem – the issue was he hadn’t updated it, and he used the same password across his various social accounts, leaving him vulnerable to breach.
The incident highlights the three core password security commandments. First, always create a complex password – you can even use a system like LastPass to generate one for you and improve your security.
Second, regularly update your passwords. That way, even if there is a breach like the LinkedIn hack, you’re safe, as your password will be different to the one listed.
Third, don’t use the same password across all of your accounts. Hackers get access to one platform, and they’ll try it on the next. Are you using the same password on your Facebook account as you are for your online banking? That’s a problem you probably want to fix.
3. Develop a data breach response plan
What would you do if your system was hacked? How would you protect the information of your customers?
If you’re not sure, best to get thinking on this and considering measures you can put in place, and the steps you can take to ensure your business’ data security.
Every time a client gives you their personal information, they’re placing trust in your business. First, they trust that you won’t abuse that information and spam them repeatedly, but also that you’ll ensure their data is not being passed on to other providers – either voluntarily or via hacking.
Hacking techniques are getting more sophisticated all the time, and it can be easy to misstep and let them in. It’s important to take a moment to consider how you would respond to such an attack, and what measures you can take to assure your customers.
Also, as a side note, limit access to your data to only those who truly need it. This will lessen the risk of potential breach.
Cyber-security can be complex, but as noted, the majority of breaches come from simple mistakes – clicking the wrong links, opening the wrong attachments, allowing hackers access. This is even more pressing now with most businesses able to grant staff access to their social media accounts via their personal log-in details, which adds more potential vulnerabilities.
Ensure you’re taking the time to consider your data security, and to assess the various ways hackers can breach your system – and what you can do about it if they do.