Practical Strategies for Enhancing Your Company’s Cyber Security
Take a look around you and it’s quite apparent that cyber threats are at an all-time high. However, we’ll probably look back five years from now and say, “Those were the good days.” Cyber attacks are proliferating at an incredible rate and now is the time for business owners and IT professionals to protect their organizations if they want to avoid catastrophes.
The Rise in Cyber Crime
Since the turn of the millennium, there’s been an incredible uptick in cyber crime. Whereas the total reported damage was only $17.8 million in 2001, the number rose to $800.49 million in 2014. A large portion of that increase has occurred over the course of the last three or four years. From 2011 to 2014, the increase in cyber crime damages well-exceeded $300 million.
While everyone is at risk, small businesses are particularly vulnerable to attacks. This may seem strange – since large corporations have so much more data and information – but Jody Westby, CEO of Global Cyber Risk, assures business owners that size is not the most important factor when it comes to these malicious attacks.
“It is the data that makes a business attractive, not the size – especially if it is delicious data, such as lots of customer contact info, credit card data, health data, or valuable intellectual property,” Westby says. Because small businesses tend to have fewer security measures in place, they are easy targets.
Strategies for Protecting Your Company
So, how do you protect your company’s data and ensure hackers aren’t able to compromise your valuable information? Well, here are a few strategies and tips worth considering:
- Invest in SSL certificates. Despite their importance, many business owners don’t invest in SSL certificates because they don’t understand what they are. This is unfortunate, since some call the SSL certificate “the backbone of our secure internet.” In the most basic sense, these certificates encrypt sensitive information so that only the intended recipient can understand it. Relatively speaking, SSL certificates are fairly cheap and can greatly enhance the reputation and reliability of your website. Don’t ignore this aspect of cyber security.
- Require two-factor authentication. If you’re looking for a practical way to quickly enhance security, consider requiring two-factor authentication for logging into accounts, software programs, and devices. Two-factor authentication is basically a technique that requires users to pass through two security checks before gaining access to an account. This could mean the difference between a major security breach and a minor inconvenience.
- Layer security. Many companies go wrong by attempting to use a one-size-fits-all approach to security. In other words, every account type, program, and resource is protected by the same level of security. This is extremely dangerous. After all, the government wouldn’t protect the White House with the same alarm system you use to protect your home, would they? Different activities call for different levels of security. Taking a layered approach allows you to deal with each unique instance as you deem appropriate.
- Hire the right people. Finally, don’t underestimate the value of the right people. A skilled IT professional can mean the difference between average security that can easily be penetrated, and sturdy security that’s able to stand up against major outside threats. You also have to think about integrity when hiring. Hackers have been known to pose as IT professionals just to gain access to private corporate data. Use your head when hiring and never devalue your intuition.
Make Cyber Security a Priority
In 2015 and beyond, cyber security is extremely important. The number of attacks are increasing by the day and it’s important for small and large businesses alike to shore up weaknesses and enhance protective measures. When addressing your company’s issues, keep these tips and strategies in mind.