Last year saw a huge surge in the amount of cyber security attacks. High profile data breaches such as the ones suffered by Target and Neiman Marcus’ Computer Systems saw their systems compromised and their business reputation suffered as a result.
Security breaches can be very costly and devastating, so should you be worried about the security of your websites and online accounts? If you hold any kind of database or customer data, you need to take steps to ensure that your systems are secure.
Here are 7 tips for keeping your systems secure and less vulnerable to online attacks, and protect your customers and contacts from this growing threat:
- Patch up your systemsAn unpatched laptop or machine is more likely to have software vulnerabilities that can be exploited by a hacker. Make sure you keep your system up to date with the latest updates and patches.
- Install protective softwareThere are many anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware products out there that can protect your systems in real time, and some are even free.
- Choose strong passwordsWhen creating passwords make sure they contain a combination of letters, numbers and special characters – create a mental acronym that is easy for you to remember. And don’t have the same passwords for every online account, use an online tool such as LastPass to keep track of your online accounts and passwords.
- Backing up is kingRegularly backing up your laptop and systems can help protect you from the unexpected. Keep at least a few months’ worth of backups and always ensure that your files can be retrieved if needed.
- Control access to your laptop or machineDon’t leave your computer in an unsecured area, or unattended and logged on especially in public places such as airports, railway stations, restaurants and cafe’s. The physical security of your laptop or machine is just as important as your technical security.
- Use the internet and email safelyBe wary of attachments you don’t recognise, and avoid untrustworthy downloadable programs from freeware or shareware sites.
- Use secure connections and protect sensitive dataWhen connected to the internet, your data can be vulnerable, especially while in transit. Use VPN’s and secure file transfer options when working on the move. Securely remove sensitive data files from your hard drive and use encryption tools build into your operating system to protect any files you need to retain.
If you are like many of us, you now have some work to do to make your online security more robust. Putting the best tips and tools in place such as LastPass is a much simpler process than recovering from a security breach, so don’t wait until tomorrow to take action- tomorrow may be too late!