All too often repetition fails at urgency, and as irony goes, the very topic we’re deaf to is the one that should have us all ears. Despite unending cycles of data breaches and subsequent warnings, 60% of small businesses will sustain fatal damage at the hands of cyber criminals. In such a harsh environment, only the fit survive. That’s why we’re going back to basics with a cyber survivor’s checklist.
Do As They Say
According to Congressmen and former computer science majors Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Will Hurd (R-TX), even the folks responsible for crafting recent cybersecurity legislation aren’t following security protocol themselves. In a letter addressed to their ‘dear colleagues,’ Lieu and Hurd listed these heavy hitters as online security must-haves:
- Two (Multi) Factor Authentication: Multiple means of identification when logging into accounts make sure the user is legit. This security measure may be offered through email providers.
- Complex Passwords:“1234” and “password” are no-go’s—you’re looking for a combination of both upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols, avoiding dictionary words. Try this handy dandy password checker.
- Virus Protection: Regular updates apply to any and all programs, but especially anti-virus protection—you’ll keep the program relevant, able to catch emerging threats and catalog out-of-the-norm activity.
- Encryption: Any data we transmit can be heard and seen—nothing’s under the radar. Unless, of course, it’s encrypted. Using encryption apps and/or software isn’t a cure-all, but it’s a strong barrier against hackers.
- Secure Wifi: If networks don’t require a password and aren’t sanctioned by the establishment, they might well be “spoofs” designed to hack accounts and steal data. Using VPN (virtual private network) services is a secure option.
- Data Backup: Ransomware holds precious data hostage, and attacks are on the rise. But regular data backups can negate having to pay up or lose out.
Experts also stress the importance of viewing our mobile devices for what they are—hand-held supercomputers. Obviously then, they require protection. It’s becoming clear that regardless of the privacy/safety debate and any laws passed, it’s really up to each of us—business owners, private citizens, and consumers—to get serious and defend against the inevitable. Lieu and Hurd close with an ominous—albeit true—statement: “Your devices will be subject to continuing cyber attacks.” Clients are relying on you to keep their data secure; what could be better than to justify their trust?