In our first post of 2019, we laid out 4 areas of cybersecurity threats to watch out for in 2019; but telling you about threats isn’t enough to help you combat the malicious actors out there, so we also promised some New Year’s resolutions to help. So, here you are: 7 resolutions to help keep you digitally safe in 2019:
1) Change your passwords
One of the best ways to keep hackers out of secure areas is to regularly change your passwords — the longer you use the same password, the easier and/or more likely hackers are to breach it. So for 2019, start by updating all your passwords to something strong and hard to guess — combinations of lower- and upper-case letters, numbers, and special characters with the more total characters in the password length, the better (you may also consider using a password manager for this exact purpose).
2) Use two-factor authentication. On everything.
Two-factor authentication should be industry standard by now, but unfortunately, it isn’t yet for everyone. For anyone that isn’t familiar, two-factor authentication is a security protocol that requires another form of identification beyond a password to access secure services (like having GMail text you an access code, for instance). You should be using multi-factor authentication on every digital asset you and your business controls to make it that much harder for threat agents to access your systems.
3) Restrict yourself to secure websites
We enter personal details on websites all the time — whether it’s just our user name and password or our credit card information to buy goods or services, Americans have become pretty comfortable sharing data. But, websites that haven’t upgraded to far more secure HTTPS protocol are at much higher risk of hacks/breaches than those that have upgraded. So, to help keep your data safe, navigate only to HTTPS sites (which extensions like HTTPS Everywhere can help with).
4) Beware public or free WiFi networks/hotspots
In today’s data-crunched world, it may be desirable to use WiFi networks whenever possible — it gets you off your cellular service providers data cap (for most people), and usually means higher speeds for your device. But, public hotspots and free WiFi networks are some of the most prone locations for attacks. Norton put together a great post about this, but the highlights are that you are vulnerable to a host of threat tactics, most notably:
- Man-in-the-Middle attacks
- Unencrypted networks
- Malware distribution
- Snooping and sniffing
- Malicious hotspots
So, suffice it to say, free WiFi and hotspots are not usually your friend. But if you must connect, please use a trusted VPN provider to help keep your data safe.
5) Stay updated
Resolutions aren’t always easy, and this one certainly falls under that heading. I know it can be a pain in the rear to get software update notifications all the time. And, it often means down time for your work day when you have to wait for your computer systems to upgrade the afflicted app or service. But — and this is a big but — many of the software upgrades and versioning your devices push on your are primarily security patches and stability upgrades. So while you may not be getting great new features with every update, you almost assuredly will be protecting your devices and their systems far better the more updated you keep your software.
6) Backup everything
The biggest threats to your data are not always hackers or specific threat agents — data loss can happen in all sorts of ways, and each of those ways can be equally devastating. If you aren’t automatically backing up all your important corporate documents and files, you are at massive risk for a data breach or system failure. There are a lot of services that can help automate these processes as well as protect, secure and encrypt the backups so they’re not also vulnerable to hackers. This should be one of your New Year’s resolutions every year, to be honest, so take special notice with this one.
7) Train your employees
Our last, but certainly not least, of the resolutions: you have to, have to, have to train your employees to spot phishy communications and steer clear. According to Shred-it, the biggest cybersecurity threat to companies is employee error or human negligence. Data loss is most often a direct result of employee error, so you absolutely must train your employees on how to identify phishing emails, how to keep their devices updated and secure, etc.
Employees are your first line of defense against hackers, and if they’re not up to snuff, it makes it really hard to make up for their errors through software. The best defense against hackers is a well-cyber-security-educated workforce.
Cybersecurity is more and more on the minds of companies large and small. And even with lists like these, it can be hard to make sure your organization is doing everything within its power to protect itself.
That’s where we come in.
We specialize in taking IT processes and services off your plate so you can focus on running your business, while we ensure you’re safe from things like cybersecurity threats. Give us a call to see how we can help you thrive in 2019.