Regardless of the size of the company you work for, cybersecurity should be of equal importance to you as a professional. In fact, according to experts, a smaller company runs a higher risk of being targeted by a cybercriminal because they see it as an easier target than a bigger firm. As the employee, you are on the frontlines and you must always stay on guard to ensure that any data that you handle is kept secure.
Your company may have comprehensive cybersecurity policies and the best security software but unless you do not play your part it is all in vain. Just one employee could put the entire company network and data security in jeopardy by click one corrupt link or sharing confidential information on the mobile phone. Therefore, it is essential to learn about cybersecurity threats and the best practices to avoid falling victim to them.
This is especially important nowadays when many of us are working from home and are no longer protected by office security systems. Learning about cybersecurity best practices had never been more important. Always the small things go a long way. So let us go ahead and learn how we can ensure the safety of company data that we handle daily.
Cybersecurity Best Practices
1. Secure Wi-Fi
Usually, in offices, you will be required to use an Ethernet cable to connect to the internet. This ensures that your network and devices can be constantly monitored. Even if you use the office Wi-Fi, everything is encrypted and secured. When working from home you can ensure a similar level of security by using VPN software. A virtual private network encrypts all the data being transmitted to and from your device, thus, making it hard for hackers to steal it. However, not all VPNs are made equal so if your company has a preferred VPN then it is better to use that one. If not then do your research and go for a paid version preferably.
2. Firewall Protection
The first line of defense against any kind of cyberattack is your firewall. A firewall ensures there is no authorized access to your emails, websites, or any other sources of information. Therefore, always ensure that you have the firewall enabled on your network, be it at the office or home.
3. Internet Security System
Your company may have provided you with antivirus software to protect your device from any potential threats. Keep an eye on the notifications and report if there is any suspicious activity. However, if they have not provided you with a security suite then you may want to buy one for yourself. However, if you have a Spectrum internet subscription you do not have to worry about spending money on antivirus because you receive free McAfee internet security suite with all Spectrum bundles that include internet service.
4. Security Software Updates and Data Back-up
It is necessary to keep your security software updated and all your data backed up. Antivirus and anti-malware software need to be regularly updated to ensure that they can respond to the latest cyber threats. Moreover, regular back up means that if there is a security breach and for some reason, your computer has been wiped out, at least your data would be secure.
5. Data Protection
Cybercriminals can create and contact you through email addresses that look legitimate at first glance. However, just like you are very careful about sharing your personally identifiable information (SSN or credit card number) you need to be suspicious of any unusual contact through email, text message, phone call, or instant message. Hackers may also hack legitimate accounts, so be diligent and report anything out of the ordinary.
6. Pop-ups, Emails, and Links
Phishers try to get users to click on pop-up windows or malicious links so that they can beach their security through viruses or malware. Always be very cautious of any emails or messages sent from unknown senders and never open any attachments or click on the link unless you are sure of what they are.
7. Password Protection and Authentication
This one is obvious but usually overlooked. The more complex your password is the harder it will be for a hacker to crack. If you have set up an easy password, you have set up the table for your attacker to come and dine on whatever information he or she pleases. Therefore, you must create a strong password containing uppercase letters, lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. It is also essential that you change your passwords regularly.
8. Seek Help from IT Experts
The IT department is a team of professionals who know what they are doing and are there to help you. Talk to them to understand how you can protect yourself better. Also, whenever there is the tiniest of the problem with your device talk to someone in the IT department before trying to fix it yourself. In case of any security breach warning, report to the IT department immediately so that they can take action right away.
9. Third-Party Controls
If you are an employee who has access to your company’s client information then you must keep it secure. Always follow every rule set by the company to ensure unauthorized parties do not lay their hands on it. You may also need to keep an eye on third parties like consultants to ensure they exercise the same level of diligence when it comes to your clients’ personal information.
10. Education and Training
You must consider it your responsibility to know what your company’s cybersecurity policies are and what rulebook you need to follow. Always ask someone in authority if you are unsure of anything. Learn the basic computer hardware terms and a few processes required for gaining remote assistance from the IT department. Always confirm before backing up anything.
The right knowledge and the sense to use it at the right time is a priceless quality one could have. Always remember that it is your responsibility to keep yourself and the company information secure. Do not expect the lack of diligence at your end to be received well at the company since what may seem to you as a small slip may cause the company immense damage. Therefore, do everything in your power to avoid data breaches. And if something still happens, at least you would know that you did whatever you could.
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September 9th, 2020
Updated on October 9th, 2020