Cybersecurity Tips for Businesses
- Train employees in security principles. Establish basic security practices and policies for employees, such as requiring strong passwords and establish appropriate Internet use guidelines, that detail penalties for violating company cybersecurity policies. Establish rules of behavior describing how to handle and protect customer information and other vital data.
- Protect information, computers, and networks from cyber attacks. Keep clean machines: having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Set antivirus software to run a scan after each update. Install other key software updates as soon as they are available.
- Provide firewall security for your Internet connection. A firewall is a set of related programs that prevent outsiders from accessing data on a private network. Make sure the operating system’s firewall is enabled or install free firewall software available online. If employees work from home, ensure that their home system(s) are protected by a firewall.
- Create a mobile device action plan. Mobile devices can create significant security and management challenges, especially if they hold confidential information or can access the corporate network. Require users to password protect their devices, encrypt their data, and install security apps to prevent criminals from stealing information while the phone is on public networks. Be sure to set reporting procedures for lost or stolen equipment.
- Make backup copies of important business data and information. Regularly backup the data on all computers. Critical data includes word processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, and accounts receivable/payable files. Backup data automatically if possible, or at least weekly and store the copies either offsite or in the cloud.
- Control physical access to your computers and create user accounts for each employee. Prevent access or use of business computers by unauthorized individuals. Laptops can be particularly easy targets for theft or can be lost, so lock them up when unattended. Make sure a separate user account is created for each employee and require strong passwords. Administrative privileges should only be given to trusted IT staff and key personnel.
- Secure your Wi-Fi networks. If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace, make sure it is secure, encrypted, and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, set up your wireless access point or router so it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID). Password protect access to the router.
- Employ best practices on payment cards. Work with banks or processors to ensure the most trusted and validated tools and anti-fraud services are being used. You may also have additional security obligations pursuant to agreements with your bank or processor. Isolate payment systems from other, less secure programs and don’t use the same computer to process payments and surf the Internet.
- Limit employee access to data and information, and limit authority to install software. Do not provide any one employee with access to all data systems. Employees should only be given access to the specific data systems that they need for their jobs, and should not be able to install any software without permission.
- Passwords and authentication. Require employees to use unique passwords and change passwords every three months. Consider implementing multi-factor authentication that requires additional information beyond a password to gain entry. Check with your vendors that handle sensitive data, especially financial institutions, to see if they offer multi-factor authentication for your account.
10 Best Practices for Mobile Device Security
Some of the most common mobile security best practices include:
- User Authentication
Restricting access to the device by requiring user authentication. Most mobile devices can be locked with a screen lock, password or personal identification number (PIN), but these measures are typically turned off by default.
By requiring authentication before a mobile device can be accessed, the data on the device is protected in case of accidental loss or theft of the mobile device. Ensure the use of a powerful password to make it more difficult for a potential thief to access the device.
- Update Your Mobile OS with Security Patches
Keep the mobile operating system and its apps up to date. Mobile operating systems like Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platform provide regular updates to users that resolve security vulnerabilities and other mobile security threats, as well as provide additional security and performance options and features to users. These upgrades are not always updated automatically, so mobile devices users may need to turn on automatic updates or update their phones and apps manually on a regular basis.
- Regularly Back Up Your Mobile Device
Ensure the mobile device’s data is regularly backed up. By backing up a device to another hard drive or to the cloud, the data can be restored in the event the device gets damaged or is lost or stolen. A backup utility or app that runs automatically on a specified schedule is recommended for keeping the backed-up data as current as possible.
- Utilize Encryption
Utilize encryption for data stored on the phone as well as for data in transit with secure technologies such as VPN. It is also a mobile security best practice to never transmit sensitive or personal information over a public Wi-Fi spot, especially one that is unsecured, without using a secure transmission option like VPN.
- Enable Remote Data Wipe as an Option
Ensure a remote data wipe option is available on the device and that users know how to utilize it in case the device is stolen or lost. Apple’s Find My iPhone app, for example, offers a remote data wiping option in addition to the ability to find the iPhone if it is lost.
- Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth When Not Needed
Limit the potential for access by hackers through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth by disabling these connectivity options when not needed.
- Don’t Fall for Phishing Schemes
Avoid potential phishing schemes and malware threats by avoiding clicking on links or opening e-mail attachments from untrusted sources, as they may be from a fraudulent source masquerading as a friend or legitimate company.
- Avoid All Jailbreaks
Ensure that the phone remains locked down as opposed to being jailbroken. While jailbreaking a smartphone can enable the user to run unverified or unsupported apps, many of these apps carry security vulnerabilities. In fact, most security exploits for Apple’s iOS only affect jailbroken iPhones.
- Add a Mobile Security App
Research and select a reputable mobile security app that extends the built-in security features of the device’s mobile operating system. Well-known third-party security vendors offer mobile security apps for iOS and Android.
- Communicate Your Mobile Security Best Practices
In enterprise and small business environments, it is vital for IT staff to ensure the company’s policies and mobile security best practices are clearly communicated to employees so that they are aware of what to do and what not to do in terms of protecting the security of their mobile devices and their data. In addition to explaining best practices, this communication should also include which apps, BYOD and BYOC solutions are permitted in the work environment, and which are not allowed for use.