October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month: What does that mean for businesses?

Oct 9, 2015 7:07am

businessOnline safety might seem most relevant to kids and families, but being safe online is important for businesses and adults as well.

Businesses of all sizes can be susceptible to online scams, bad actors and computer-related issues like malware. To avoid these kinds of issues, or at least be prepared for them, businesses should employ STOP. THINK. CONNECT. as a starting point for online safety.

In support of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, Praesidio Security Engineer Bill Creasey, shared five cybersecurity tips that any business can use to be safe online:

Use Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication is becoming an increasingly popular tool, but many people aren’t sure what this security precaution is. Typically a login for an account contains two items: your username (who you are) and your password (something you know). Two-factor authentication adds another item: “something you have”. Usually, this is an app on your phone or a key fob from the service you are using. Two-factor authentication helps protect your online accounts beyond just usernames and passwords, which can be lost, stolen or cracked. Be sure to take advantage of two-factor authentication on your online accounts where available. You can review a list of sites that support two-factor authentication at https://twofactorauth.org/. For more information about this service and how it works, check out the Two Steps Ahead campaign.

Hover Over Email Links from Everyone, Even People You Know

Phishing scams over email, online ads and social media are still used prominently by cybercriminals looking to gain unauthorized access to computers and networks. One tip you can always employ is to hover over links before you click them. There will be a little box that pops up when you hover over a link that shows  you what the true URL is. Even when you get an email from someone you know and trust, hover over any links before clicking in case they actually link to bogus websites.

Keep a Clean Machine

Nobody likes updates. They take time, they can slow you down and sometimes it feels like they tend to make things worse; however, it is very important to install updates when they are available. Research shows that within 48 hours of release, most major patches have been reverse engineered by attackers to assault systems. Delaying your updates because it interrupts your day allows you to be vulnerable to attacks very quickly. Regularly install updates not only to your operating systems, but also for browsers and other applications and services. Be aware of what you have installed and what versions you are using.

Get Savvy About Wi-Fi Hotspots

Public wireless networks and hotspots are not secure – this means the possibility exists that anyone can see what you are doing on your laptop or smartphone while you are connected to it. Think about what you are doing and if you would want another person to see it. If you use public Wi-Fi a lot, think about using a virtual private network (VPN) that provides a more secure Wi-Fi connection.

Beware of Free Software

Very little out there is ever truly free. These days may websites offer free downloads, and software packages you are prompted to download can contain anything from adware and annoying pop-up apps to full-fledged malware/trojan installers. It’s always best for your company to have a strong policy regarding application installation. Conduct regular audits of user workstations and verify that policies are being followed. Additionally, limit local administrative permissions for your customers. Consumers should be very careful about what they have installed. If you need to install something specific at work, run it by IT staff for approval before downloading and installing on your own.

These 5 tips are just a small part of implementing good cybersecurity for businesses. Businesses should be cognizant of the various risks out there and take good measure to protect themselves and their potential customers. While October might be the designated month for staying safe online, promoting a more secure Internet is an ongoing endeavor.

About the Author

Nick Roberts is the technical marketing manager for Praesidio, a cybersecurity firm focused on protecting the financial industry. He’s been working on technology, marketing and cybersecurity products for more than a decade.