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How to protect your company against hackers/cybercriminals

Keeping your sensitive data (and finances!) as secure as possible is critical to the longevity of your organisation. Unfortunately, hackers are growing more and more effective with each passing day. This implies you’ll need to prioritise particular cybersecurity steps to keep them from accessing this information.

The good news is that it isn’t as difficult as you might think. Let’s look at some crucial information about how to defend yourself against hackers.

Prepare Your Team Appropriately

When it comes to keeping your business safe from hackers, properly training your personnel will go far further than most people expect. This is owing to the fact that even a single employee could jeopardise the organisation. Assume, for example, that your staff have not been taught how to generate secure passwords.

They may also be uninformed of the types of information they should never disclose with specific individuals. A phishing assault, for example, is a scenario in which untrained personnel could disclose sensitive company information. This could easily lead to unauthorised individuals gaining access to critical company information.

Cyber-vigilant employees are your best protection against information security threats.

In general, every employee should know:

  • What business and personal use is permitted for emails
  • How to treat business information at the office or at home
  • What to do if a cybersecurity incident occurs

Train every new employee to protect valuable data and have them sign your information policy. Use newsletters and/or ongoing training to reinforce your culture of cybersecurity.

The ramifications of a hack via employee mistakes will vary, but they have the potential to be disastrous. In some extreme circumstances, a competitor in the industry may even get trade secrets (no, it doesn’t just happen in movies. We’ve seen it happen!)

This might be an insurmountable barrier for many different sorts of enterprises. This is especially true for businesses operating in highly competitive industries.

Hackers have been known to threaten the public and even industry competitors with the publication of trade secrets.

Always Use the Most Recent Versions of Software

Surprisingly, many individuals are unaware that even slightly old software poses a significant cybersecurity risk. After all, this is the main reason why developers provide updates so frequently.

As time passes, internet hackers discover new ways to abuse software. As a result, developers are working to eradicate these hazards through official fixes.

Despite the fact that this procedure will continue, falling behind could allow hackers to compromise data on your device. The good news is that keeping your software up to date is extremely straightforward. Most programmes even allow users to automatically download and install new updates as they become available.

If you are using software that is no longer supported by the developer, it is best to look into alternatives. Hackers will eventually discover a way to exploit abandoned software and obtain access to company data.

Use Multifactor Authentication

Multifactor authentication, as the name implies, is the process of granting access based on various criteria. In a traditional arrangement, you might just require a password to access a certain account. However, with multifactor authentication, you may additionally be required to enter a security code emailed to your company email.

This is an excellent method of ensuring that the login credentials are entered by an authorised individual. There are various types of multifactor authentication. Biometric data, such as a fingerprint, can also be included.

In general, additional variables will be necessary to gain access to extremely sensitive data. However, even a single additional component can provide an effective layer of protection. However, multifactor authentication is only effective if your organisation as a whole is secure.

If a hacker has also compromised an employee’s email, entering a verification code alongside a password will be simple.

Understand How to Recognize Common Threats

The best way to defend against hackers is to understand the methods that they use. So, training your team to recognize common threats will be one of the most effective tools at your disposal.

In general, hackers utilize malware in order to carry out their attacks. This is a type of malicious program that can perform a number of different functions once it infects a machine.

It could provide the hacker with information about everything you type on your keyboard. Or, it could surreptitiously send information from your device back to the hacker. Some of the most dangerous malware can even infect other devices on the same network.

This can turn what would have been a minor situation into something catastrophic. Everyone in your organization should understand how to recognize a suspicious file/link, a phishing attack, and the type of behavior that hackers exhibit.

Under most circumstances, data breaches can only occur through user input. So, someone on the other end of the hacker’s attack will need to click on a download button or visit a fraudulent website. This means that you generally have the opportunity to prevent an attack before it starts.

Avoid opening suspicious emails

I’m sure this is pretty obvious, but if an email looks suspicious, don’t open it because it might be a phishing scam.

Someone could impersonate another individual or company to gain access to your personal information. Occasionally, the emails may also contain attachments or links that can infect your device.

Check links before you click

Another thing that ties in with the previous point. You should double-check links before clicking them since they can easily be masked as something they’re not. Most browsers will show you the target URL when hovering over the link. This way, you can check the links before you click them.

Establish a Hierarchical Data Structure

Not every employee within your organization should have the same level of access to company data. To clarify, an entry-level worker should not be able to access information that executives can.

So, you’ll need to establish a hierarchical data structure at your company. This means allocating access privileges based on certain criteria such as employee paygrade, specialization, trustworthiness, tech proficiency etc.

In general, you’ll want to minimize the number of people who have access to data that your company. This means that employees should only be able to log into certain accounts, open certain files, etc. if they are relevant to their role.

The more people who have access to certain information, the larger the risk that hackers present. As you can assume, it’s often much easier to compromise basic employee accounts as opposed to those that belong to executives.

In the event that there is a change in personnel (such as an employee leaving the company), the appropriate changes should be made to data access. This often means changing passwords and removing people from teams. As long as they can no longer access data they should not be able to, you should not encounter issues in the future.

Develop a Contingency Plan

Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that you will inevitably encounter a situation with a hacker. While this doesn’t guarantee you will experience data loss, it may cause a disruption in your workflow. For example, a hacker might take down one of your internal systems and prevent you from communicating with your teams.

In the event that you do not have a contingency plan in place, you may suffer from extensive downtime. This will directly translate into a loss in revenue. However, there is also the other side of the spectrum to consider.

It’s entirely possible for a data breach to occur on a massive scale. Having the ability to navigate this situation is the only way you will be able to effectively recover from it.

So, it’s highly recommended that you make a list of the most outstanding threats to your business. You should then come up with multiple solutions for each scenario to determine the best course of action for disaster recovery.

The additional solutions you come up with can serve as backup plans in the event that your primary method is unsuccessful.

Have a Plan for Remote Workers

The Covid-19 pandemic drastically changed the way that most businesses operate. More companies than ever before have been forced to accommodate remote workers. While this allowed businesses to function, it also came with additional risks.

Most notably, many companies did not take the proper safeguards to secure their networks. Now that remote workers are consistently accessing and sending sensitive information, you’ll need to take certain steps to protect it.

This means encrypting the connection between your remote workers and your company network. It also means implementing policies that limit the type of activity your employees can conduct on company devices.

A common scenario can involve an employee using a work computer to pirate software. In the event that they get a virus while downloading software, that hacker could inadvertently gain access to company information on the computer.

Under some circumstances, they could even use that device to access the company network. It’s imperative that your business assesses these risks and determines how it will prevent issues from arising.

Otherwise, the convenience of having remote workers can easily turn into a liability.

Archive Your Data Consistently

Performing backups on a regular basis is the only way that you can ensure you can fully recover from a hacker.

After all, recovery often involves restoring affected data from an archive. For this reason, it’s highly recommended that you or your IT support company establish a system for your data backups.

Core data should be archived once every 24 hours. Less important information can be backed up less often, such as once per week or even once per month.

It’s also important for you to back up your data at multiple locations. This includes remote storage and external hard drives.

This even involves keeping archived information off-site. In the event that something like a natural disaster, robbery, etc. affects your business, you run the risk of losing all of your archived information if you keep it all within one place.

As you might guess, those who back up information should always protect it. Implementing passwords and encryption is vital when it comes to keeping your data as safe as possible. It’s also recommended to carefully control access to this type of information.

Many businesses that store data backups on-site do so within rooms that require identification to enter. This will help you minimize the chances that someone within your organization causes issues.

Use Robust Anti-malware and Firewall Software

It is critical to invest in anti-malware software that is specifically developed to deal with the most recent malware threats. While anti-malware software can detect and isolate malware and viruses once they have entered your system, it is vital to prevent these dangers from entering your system in the first place – which is where a firewall comes into play.

Because of the cloud, modern antivirus software is almost always up to date, allowing it to respond to attacks nearly instantaneously. A strong anti-malware (or anti-virus) solution provides multi-layer security that works around the clock to protect your computer and data. It protects your business network from hackers by blocking common and complicated threats such as viruses, malware, spy programmes, and ransomware.

A good firewall shields you from prying eyes. It prevents hackers and intruders from gaining access to your computer, laptop, workstation, or server. A good firewall can keep malicious ‘worms’ out of your computer. A firewall also prevents sensitive data from being sent from your computer without your authorization. This could include your passwords, bank account information, and other personal information.

Adhere to Industry Regulations

No matter what industry you work within, there’s a good chance that there are outstanding regulations you have to deal with.

This is especially true for businesses that work in the tech or healthcare industries. However, many people overlook the fact that adhering to these regulations will make your business safer. This is achieved by sufficiently protecting your customers.

For example, healthcare facilities are required to store patient data in a certain manner. This is done in order to protect these individuals from having this information compromised. A result of this, though, is making it harder for hackers to access this information.

Many regulations have to do with the way you store digital information. So, following these standards will eliminate many common issues before they arise. It also comes with the benefit of boosting your brand reputation.

Install Surge Protectors & Uninterruptible Power Supplies

During a power outage, UPSs can provide enough battery life and time for you to save data. Make sure your UPS meets your company’s standards and requirements. 

Computers and networked devices should be connected to a UPS. Standard surge protectors should be sufficient for less-sensitive electronic equipment and non-networked equipment. Ensure you test and replace each UPS and surge protector according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Secure All Wireless Access Points & Networks

Use the following router best practices for secure wireless networking:

  • New devices need to have their administrative password changed
  • The wireless access point should not broadcast its service set identifier (SSID)
  • Set your router to use WiFi Protected Access 2 (WPA-2) with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) for encryption
  • Avoid using WEP (Wired-Equivalent Privacy).
  • Separate your business network from the internet access you give to your clients or visitors

Consider Hiring a Professional

It’s critical to understand that you might not be able to identify all of the potential hazards to your company. For example, if your organization is located in Selangor or Kuala Lumpur, employing an IT support Selangor company like Asia E-Pros will provide insight and increased exposure to existing cybersecurity problems.

The professionals you deal with will also contribute to the development of solutions to these problems. It should come as no surprise that working with a professional before you need one is in your best interests. It is far easier to avoid a data breach than it is to recover from one.

Your professional managed service provider can also provide active monitoring. This enables them to recognize hazards as they emerge. It is not uncommon for service providers to detect and eradicate dangers before the organization is even aware of their presence.

This enables you to concentrate on the main parts of your business. In fact, many businesses find that hiring outsourced IT helps increase their productivity. Keep this information in mind as you proceed.

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