More and more often we are hearing about large companies that have been infiltrated by hackers who have maneuvered around their security systems to access consumer information. Apple, Target, Michaels, Neiman Marcus – large companies with high tech security systems all exposed and hacked just in the last few months. As a small business you might be thinking, “this only happens to the big companies with LOTS of information”. You’re wrong. Small businesses are just as vulnerable so we’re sharing ten password and cyber security tips to follow to keep your information safe from attack.
While the major concern in each of the major security breaches noted above was the effect it had on the consumer, the cost of bad press and lowered consumer confidence each company experienced is something that they might never be able to recover from. For a small business with limited resources experiencing the same situation, this could simply put you out of business. Bill Carey, VP of Marketing at Roboform – a password management tool from Siber Systems – has shared 10 password and cyber security tips to use as a first line of defense to keeping your business safe.
1. Regularly update software to eliminate security weaknesses. Windows, Macs, and all browsers regularly provide free software updates; take advantage of this to close security loopholes!
2. When you’re done with using a website, log off and close your browser. This will prevent others from gaining access to your account.
3. Create passwords with combinations of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters.
4. Don’t use personal information in your password, such as your name, your partner’s name, your child’s name, your occupation, telephone number, birth date, etc.
5. Small businesses have to hold their employees accountable for their security. Employees must adopt safe security habits to keep their information and the company’s information protected. Consider putting a formal cyber-security policy into effect.
6. Make sure that you use a PIN or password on your mobile phone.
7. Use the ‘Keystroke’ method for making passwords. Choose a password and create a keyboard mapping system. One key to the left and one up would make the password “tinmen” change to “47gh2g”
8. Disable pictures on your email and read it in plain text. The sender will not be able to identify if you’ve opened the email.
9. Don’t keep a record or list of your passwords in unencrypted files on your computer or phone.
10. Have a disposable e-mail address. Only give your actual e-mail address out to who people who need it. This will avoid mass spam and keep your inbox clean.
If you are like many of us (me included!), you now have some work to do to make your passwords more secure. To make the task easier, use a password management tool, such as those from Roboform, LastPass, 1Password or PasswordBox. Each of these apps has a free version for you to try and they work across Windows / Mac / iOs / Android platforms to allow access from your computer or mobile devices – ensuring protection no matter where you login from.
Putting the best tips and tools in place to secure your business is a much simpler process than recovering from a security breach, so don’t wait until tomorrow to take action – tomorrow may be too late!