With so many business functions completed on digital devices these days, from product development and planning, through to communication between teams, sales and marketing, finance, and human resources, it’s incredibly important for businesses, small and large, to ensure their systems are secure.
Hackers are more prevalent than ever, and come up with increasingly sophisticated ways to break into networks and steal or ransom information; plus businesses can lose huge amounts of money if their computers crash, freeze, don’t retain data, or otherwise play up.
As a result, business owners and managers must look for ways to keep online systems running smoothly. One of the ways you can go about doing this is through what’s known as “cyber hygiene.” Read on for the lowdown on what this term means and how you can take advantage of it today.
What Cyber Hygiene Is
The term “cyber hygiene,” also known as “security hygiene,” is a phrase that was created to reference the establishment and maintenance of behaviors, daily routines, regular checks, and the like that are necessary in order to keep an organization’s, or individual’s, online security healthy. When you and your team practice comprehensive security hygiene (which involves numerous steps), your firm’s risk of being hacked and having systems and networks crashed or held for ransom dramatically reduces.
Benefits of Cyber Hygiene
There are lots of benefits to be enjoyed when you get proactive about cyber hygiene. Apart from there being less chance of hackers breaking into devices and networks because security gaps are plugged, you’ll also be able to:
- Find unmanaged assets
- Protect customer data
- Locate and fix any outdated admin privileges (e.g., from team members who are no longer working for the company)
- Identify unauthorized software on your systems
- More easily run checks for compliance audits
Tips for Maintaining Security Health for Your Business
There are lots of simple yet effective steps you and your team can take to maintain the security health of your business. For example, start by ensuring everyone within the firm uses comprehensive passwords that hackers won’t be able to crack. Avoid common yet terribly lax codes like the word “password,” “admin,” or “123456.”
Furthermore, passwords should be made up of a minimum of eight characters, using upper- and lower-case letters, symbols, and numbers. The codes chosen should never be related to details that hackers might be able to find online on websites and social media platforms, such as the company or personal names, dates, and taglines.
It is also wise to use different passwords on different devices and website logins so that if one code gets discovered by a cybercriminal, this won’t put everything at risk all at once. Get your team to update their passwords on a regular basis, too. Around every three months, or so is typically a good option. If people struggle to remember passwords, which is understandable, consider using a quality password manager.
Next, another simple yet effective step you can take to increase cyber hygiene within your organization is to install security software on all computers and other internet-enabled devices. This will stop things like malicious codes and viruses being embedded on your devices and will alert you and your team to dangerous websites and links.
Adding firewalls is also a good idea, as this adds another line of defense against hackers, particularly when it comes to them breaking in via the internet. Don’t forget to secure Wi-Fi in the office (and any other places where business computers are used), too, because hackers can try to get access to data via unsecured wireless networks.
You should also have staff members run updates on their computers regularly. This should be done for firewalls and security software, plus browsers, operating systems, apps, media players, and anything else where security gaps can crop up over time.
Lastly, to cover yourself in case a hacker does get into your firm’s systems and hold information for ransom, or just delete or remove it, regularly back up data. Ransomware attacks, in particular, have become increasingly common in the last year or two and can be a huge issue for businesses. Wherever possible, try to have employees and contractors complete all of their work on programs which are automatically backed up to the cloud and to on-site servers. This doesn’t cost a fortune these days because there are lots of software programs you can use for an affordable monthly or annual cost.