From the personal data of your employees to the credit card information of your customers, you risk a lot by overlooking the security and privacy of your digital assets. According to statistics, roughly 75% of all legitimate websites have security vulnerabilities that demand your attention.
Do you feel lucky enough to be part of the 25%? Hopefully not.
Further reports indicate that half a billion personal records were stolen or lost from the year 2015. Employees were also the favourite targets of spear-phishing campaigns with attacks affecting not only SMBs, but large enterprises as well.
Bear in mind that data breaches can compromise the continuity and value of your enterprise. You need to handle data with care and make sure they don’t reach the wrong hands. To help protect the sensitive data of your employees and customers, make sure you adhere to the fundamentals of online privacy and protection for organizations:
Avoid Acquiring Too Much Information
Make no mistake, businesses have a huge amount of data to protect. It doesn’t help if you keep requesting for personal information and other data you don’t even need. To reduce the load, make sure you only collect information that is vitally important to your business processes. Requesting a street address, for example, is not really useful if you only want newsletter subscribers and should be omitted from the sign-up process.
Remember that hackers cannot steal any information that you don’t have. Whenever your business asks for sensitive information, such as a credit card number, full legal name, or address, make sure it is absolutely necessary to complete a specific transaction. Otherwise, optimize your processes and eliminate the acquisition of unnecessary information.
Have a First Line of Defense
No company should ever be without a first line of defense against the most common cyber-attacks such as DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service), malware infections, and phishing. Fortunately, there is an abundance of tools and platforms that can help you prevent them. For example, an enterprise-grade web application firewall can effectively detect most types of malware and stop the advances of cyber-criminals. Also be sure to have a premium anti-virus software to protect your company network.
For maximum security, you need to be ahead of the curve and implement a proactive approach when it comes to common cyber-attacks. They may be easy to fix, but the damages may have rippling effects to your brand in the long-term. As a rule of thumb, make sure you constantly update your security software whenever new threat definitions are available. You should also update all the other tools you use in your business to patch potential vulnerabilities in older versions.
To ensure the absolute privacy of your data, you should keep them protected while at rest and during transmission. With today’s technology, crafty hackers can take advantage of public Wi-Fi networks to gain unauthorized access to any connected device. This is particularly risky if you have remote employees working in public places such as coffee shops, libraries, and cafes.
To protect against eavesdroppers, make sure they use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). It works by encrypting outside connections to your business network to achieve total anonymity. Take note that a VPN is different from a proxy, which only works when trying to access websites.
You should also implement encryption across all lines of communication, such as emails and instant messaging. A popular encrypted messaging tool is Signal Private Messenger by Open Whisper Systems.
Practice Password Safety
Despite being used for a very long time, a lot of individuals still do not take password safety seriously. This kind of employees put the company at risk of successful “brute force login attacks”. That said, make sure you train your users to practice using strong passwords. Use complex combinations of symbols, numbers, and capitalized letters. You can also use a random password generator and assign them to employees yourself.
If your company uses WordPress, you can use a security plugin that can stop brute force attacks for added safety. These tools typically use CAPTCHA and auto-lockdown features to prevent automated login attempts. Also take note that your web host may have built-in security measures against brute force login attacks you can use, so be sure to check with your hosting company.
Always Have a “Backup Plan”
Finally, one of the most important rules of digital security is to never feel too safe. As a business, you have much to lose in case a cyber-attack gets through. For example, a leak of customer data may diminish the confidence of new prospects once the word gets out. A data breach incident may also irreversibly stain the reputation of your brand and hurt your customer and partner relationships.
At the very least, you have to make sure your website can recover quickly from security breaches. A reliable practice is to have a remote backup service ready to restore operations in the soonest time. Today, these companies also offer additional features such as automated backups, 24/7 support, and cloud-storage integration.
If the entire future of your business is at stake, it’s better to have all bases covered than to have a false sense of security. Abiding by the fundamentals of online privacy and security will make sure you’re never caught off-guard. If you have additional security tips you’d like to share, feel free to leave a comment and let the world know!