For many companies, the Internet is an important aspect of day-to-day activities. Whether a business offers software as a service or uses the web for HR purposes, employees are often at the front lines when it comes to protecting a company’s privacy. However, there are many ways that employees and employers are unknowingly risking company data.
With many Americans using their personal devices, such as smartphones and personal laptops, to connect to company programs, apps, and at the very least a Wi-Fi server, employees are putting their company servers in potentially risky positions.
According to a report by the Ponemon Institute, a corporate data breach can cost a company $3.86 million on average. While breaches this costly come far and few between, businesses should prevent anything like this from happening to their company software systems, no matter how big or small the breach. In order to do so, the first step is to routinely educate their employees on internet safety best practices.
Avoid Fake and Unsecure URLs
When surfing the web, it can be hard to tell which URLs are legitimate or not. We can often get in the habit of clicking on links or typing in URLs that seem completely safe. However, employers should encourage employees to double-check URLs for small typos or any unusually placed characters.
Double-check to see that the sites clicked on are the actual sites you are looking for and come from a secure network. For example, if a site’s URL starts with “https://” there is a high chance that the site is secure. The “s” stands for secure so if you see “https://” instead of “http://,” you can confidently visit the site.
Be Wary of Oversharing On Social Media
Social media is a great place to enjoy yourself, but for personal safety as well as the company’s safety, there are best practices for how to properly access your social media accounts. Social accounts, blogs, and other media sites are often an easy target for hackers, but you can keep these data portals closed by providing the least amount of personal details in your online profiles.
While most social media accounts make it difficult to properly secure the privacy of your account, it is important to find the settings for securing personal data (see the following for more information on Facebook and Instagram security). Unfortunately, many people are unaware that these settings are already predetermined during the setup process and they need to be adjusted at a later point if you want to keep your personal information hidden.
For employers looking to secure important company data, please ensure that employees connecting their social devices are properly updating their privacy settings. All it takes is one unprotected device or application for a cybercriminal to access company data.
Create Complex, Yet Secure Passwords
We’ve all heard the same old song and dance about how passwords should be complex and hard to guess. For as many times as we’ve all heard it, we should know that complex passwords are the difference between a million-dollar company data breach and an unbreakable network.
To make sure all aspects of your network are secure, use different passwords for each login if you can. Reusing the same login and password for all your networks, applications, emails, etc. is an easy way for hackers to access everything from your Facebook to your financial statements. Using a long password and one that’s not associated with personal details is a smart idea. Using characters like numbers and punctuation is key, as well. Most importantly, do not save your passwords to your browser, as it could promote easy access for breaking into your system.
Invest in Solid Security
Installing security software is a must for any company or connected device. Software security comes in many shapes and sizes, such as anti-spyware, anti-spam filters, and firewalls. However, considering the amount of personally connected devices employees bring in to work, virtual private networks, or VPNs, are often a security measure that most companies implement. A VPN is a private security network that keeps your online browsing private while connected to a public Internet. These networks mask internet protocol (IP) addresses so any online activity is virtually untraceable.
For companies who have remote workers or employees who are connecting their personal devices to the company internet, VPN security on top of traditional security software is the best line of defence when it comes to securing company information. Not only does it stand as a block between your personal information and public networks, but it also keeps hackers from obtaining private company data.
While no company is guaranteed complete safety from data hackers, taking precautions to defend important software and the data it holds is a must for all companies. While most businesses make Internet safety a part of their mandatory training, many companies are not following up on the information they are teaching their workers. By reviewing these best practices with employees on a regular basis, their chances of a data breach will surely decrease.