Wednesday, October 30, 2019

4 Simple, Easy, Effective Ways to Increase Online Security

ways to increase online security
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

In today’s technological era, all of our most important information exists in cyberspace. This is the case for individuals, small businesses, and transnational corporations alike. A breach of sensitive data can create myriad problems for a company, such as:
·       Damaging the credibility of an organization and making its management look incompetent or careless (a PR nightmare)
·       Scaring away customers who are mindful of online security and privacy
·       Giving competitors an unfair advantage (corporate espionage)
·       Distressing budgets and cash flow due to dealing with the aftermath of a hack
·       In the case of ransomware, directly draining profits
And many more problems that you might be dealing with for a long time.
History has shown that no company is immune to the threat of a cyber-attack. For example, a number of high-profile hacks have happened in the not so distant past.
The Yahoo hack occurred in 2013 and involved over one billion user accounts being compromised, making it the largest data breach to-date.
Hackers have also breached a number of high-profile retail companies such as Target, Sears, Home Depot, and more.
Add to this a long list of cloud-hosting companies such as Cloudflare and Dropbox being compromised, and it’s not hard to see that increasing your online security is now of the utmost importance.

4 Ways to Increase Your Online Security

Photo by Blake Connally on Unsplash

You may be wondering how to prevent a cyber attack. Of course, it is a complex matter involving a large number of variables.

That said, there are some affordable, common-sense actions that any organization can take in order to defend themselves from a significant portion of potential cyber-attacks. Here are four ways to increase your online security.

Use Reliable Detection Methods

When a cyber attack occurs, it’s vital that you be made aware of it as soon as possible. Hacks can often go undetected for weeks or even months. Most companies do not understand this.
To be alerted to intruders opening files in your system, all you have to do is use a free and easy tool called Canary Tokens.

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Created by online security company Station X, these tokens look like regular files – PDFs, Word Documents, emails, photographs and more. In reality, however, they are hacker traps. When anyone accesses the canary token file, you will instantly be sent an email notification.
Detection is not a preventative measure per se, but it can mitigate further damage once a breach has occurred. Being able to shut systems down or isolate vital infrastructure can help limit the destruction caused by an attack.

Install Anti-Malware Software and Firewalls

One of the most important features that can keep hackers out is a firewall. Your entire network should have a firewall (network-based firewall), as should each device within it (host-based firewall).

ways to increase online security
Photo by Arian Darvishi on Unsplash
Premium versions of most anti-virus programs also provide real-time scanning capabilities that can detect and prevent malware the second it invades your system. Many quality software options exist.

You will have to consult with an expert and decide which program is best for your organization. Some of the most well-known and reputable services include names like Malware Bytes, Avast, and Clam XAV for Mac (no affiliate links here – I’m not an affiliate marketer).
It may be necessary to hire a full-time professional online security expert to customize and maintain your firewall, anti-malware programs, detection methods, and so on.

Conduct Routine Software Maintenance

This might be the most important and simplest solution of them all.
According to the second annual Nuix Black report on online security, most all high-profile data leaks did not occur due to some sophisticated hacking method. Instead, they happened because someone in the company failed to conduct routine maintenance. Simply neglecting to install a software upgrade or patch can have catastrophic results.
The solution, as you might have guessed, is simply to make sure you update all operating systems, web browsers, firewalls, anti-malware programs, and so on as soon as any updates are made available.

Educate Employees On Common Phishing Tactics

Up to 88% of all hackers claim they use phishing tactics to gain information about a target before they attack it, according to the same report. That means that avoiding phishing tactics could decrease the odds of falling victim to a successful breach by as much as 88%.
For employees who conduct any business on your network, phishing avoidance education should be a mandatory part of their training. They must be able to react appropriately to threats such as phishing emails, malicious links, phony sites, and callers impersonating authority figures.

These social engineering tactics are often used by hackers for a reason – they are simple, cheap, and effective. No amount of online security can prevent a naïve employee from giving an intruder confidential information or even direct login credentials.

Implement These Methods Today to Prevent Cyber Attacks

Note that three out of these four methods cost nothing to implement – educating employees, conducting routine software maintenance, and using Canary Tokens. Using these in addition to installing premium anti-malware programs and firewalls and hiring an online security expert will go a long way toward preventing cyber attacks and increasing your online security.

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