In this digital age, where technology is at the heart of every business operation, cybersecurity has become an utmost priority. The threat of cyber attacks looms large, and businesses of all sizes are vulnerable. So, how can you protect your business from these digital dangers? Fear not! We’ve got you covered with our top cybersecurity tips that will help you fortify your defenses and keep those cyber villains at bay. Let’s dive right in!
Cyber and identity theft remain significant challenges for businesses around the world. What’s more, increasingly sophisticated phishing scams continue to impact heavily on both businesses and customers, with this detailed perfectly by a report commissioned by Internet security brand McAfee in 2020. This found that some 25% of customers experience email phishing scams on a regular basis, while this percentage increases to 42% in France.
The good news is that there are proactive steps that you can take to help safeguard your business in the digital age, with cybersecurity methods also evolving at a significant rate. Here are a few tips to follow.
1. Use Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) Alongside a VPN
While you may have previously completed a VPN download for your business, this isn’t the only way of safeguarding remote access to your company servers and most sensitive consumer information.
In fact, you can use a VPN in conjunction with a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), which is a virtual WAN architecture that enables businesses to securely leverage any combination of transport services and connect users to applications on a large scale. These include LTE, MPLS and broadband Internet services, while it provides a highly efficient solution in an age of increased hybrid and remote working.
While SD-WAN provides optimal routing of encrypted traffic between various network points, it also supports any type of network connectivity (including VPNs). So, while the former can be used to centralize the management of a large and geographically diverse network of users, VPNs may be deployed to oversee individual remote connections and provide an additional layer of security.
This type of multifaceted approach is both highly secure and efficient, while it provides far greater protection against the risk posed by hackers, cyber thieves, and malicious malware attacks.
2. Don’t Store Sensitive Data Unless it’s Absolutely Necessary for Your Business
When dealing with customers on a daily basis, agents come into contact with huge swathes of sensitive but pivotal data. This creates a conundrum for companies, as while this information can unlock significant marketing and sales insights, storing the data securely poses huge practical risks and challenges.
You certainly want to avoid making customer support agents responsible for handling huge swathes of sensitive consumer data, as this increases the risk of human error and distracts from their core roles of driving customer retention and upselling when the opportunity arises.
So, try to avoid storing particularly sensitive data at all, while information that is retained must be stored using a clearly defined process and an especially strong level of encryption that provides adequate protection at all times.
Similarly, I’d recommend educating and training your employees on the importance of cybersecurity in the digital age, so that they can take further steps to protect consumers and their most sensitive data while understanding the core risks that they’ll face on a daily basis.
3. Keep Software Updated
Software updates aren’t just there to annoy you with pop-up reminders; they are essential for your business’s security. Cybercriminals are constantly searching for vulnerabilities in software, and developers release updates to patch those weaknesses. Make sure your systems are always up to date with the latest security patches and bug fixes. It’s like installing a sturdy lock on your digital front door.
4. Strong Passwords are Your Shield
Let’s be honest; “123456” and “password” are not the passwords of choice for the cybersecurity-savvy. Encourage your employees to create strong, unique passwords that include a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. And please, no more “admin123”! Implement multi-factor authentication for an extra layer of protection. After all, a strong password is like a medieval castle wall, impenetrable to cyber invaders.
5. Be Wary of Phishing Attempts
Phishing is the cyber equivalent of fishing; hackers cast their nets, hoping to catch an unsuspecting victim. Train your employees to be vigilant and cautious when it comes to suspicious emails, links, and attachments. Encourage them to verify the source before clicking on any unfamiliar links or providing sensitive information. Remember, if something smells fishy, it’s probably a phishing attempt!
6. For the Worst Case Scenario – Develop an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan
In the unfortunate and still relatively unlikely event that your business does endure a cyber breach, the speed and effectiveness of your response will be the single most important factor.
Make no mistake; it’s managers and senior leadership teams that should be responsible for both cultivating and communicating a disaster recovery plan, and while this should always solicit the input of key stakeholders and employees at all levels, this remains the strategic responsibility of those in positions of power and control.
Core elements of a disaster recovery plan include the immediate (and safe) restoration of systems, while backups should be deployed to recover sensitive customer data as quickly as possible. This way, your operational systems can remain online while the medium to long-term damage is minimized, and this can prove crucial when providing an important service and avoiding longer term disruption.
Ultimately, you should also work closely with your hosting partner to develop and manageable and realistic recovery plan, and one that simultaneously safeguards your firm’s reputation and minimizes the damage done to both your customers and the integrity of your company.
The Last Word
As you can see, there are both proactive and reactive steps that can be taken to both prevent and react in the case of a data breach or act of cybertheft.
The key is to create a well-rounded and funded strategy that encompasses all potential scenarios, as while you should always prioritize minimizing the risk of large scale data breaches, it’s also important to have a strategic recovery plan in place if you do fall prey to the machinations of cyber thieves.