Data compromises are arguably a business’ biggest threat. We’ve watched big name companies pay millions of dollars in settlements after security breaches and lose customer confidence. The most notable of these hacks from a credit card perspective being Target in 2013 and Home Depot in 2014.

When retail giants are hacked, we’re suddenly all aware that it could happen to us, too. If hackers can take down businesses of that size, what can’t they do? We fret for a while, and, soon, we’ve all but forgotten. That’s when we let vulnerabilities slip through the cracks.

Unfortunately, hackers are waiting for that exact moment. They know that as soon as we let our guards down, they can send a phishing email, find a vulnerability, or use a brute force or spraying attack on our passwords.

List of Quick Defenses

In the interest of keeping your company safe from opportunistic and targeted attacks, we’ve compiled a list of quick defenses.

1. Enable two-factor authentication.

Added layers of security are always a plus. Two-factor authentication consists of two different forms of identification. A factor can be:

  • Something you know (a password, PIN code, or security question)
  • Something you have (a phone, key fob, or card)
  • Something you are (a biometric factor such as a fingerprint or voice recognition)

This second level of authentication strengthens any login and gives you more peace of mind.

2. Use a VPN.

A VPN (virtual private network) is a great way to avoid possible attacks while using public WI-FI. The network acts as a middleman, securing your data and changing your IP address. You’ll browse on public WI-FI without fear of hackers using the opportunity to steal your information.

VPNs are ideal for employees who work remotely or who travel for work frequently. There are both free and paid versions of VPNs available. Take the time to research the networks that fit best for your company’s needs.

3. Train your employees.

Your employees could unknowingly be your biggest vulnerability. Without proper information security training, they can make simple mistakes with big consequences.

But, knowledge is power. With the right training, your employees will be more likely to:

  • Identify a phishing email
  • Create secure passwords
  • Alert IT Security of suspicious activity

Some helpful advice can be found in our podcast episode, Why Employees are Your Number One Risk, where we discuss the important role your employees play in keeping your company safe.

4. Install security updates.

Without fail, security update windows pop up right in the middle of that important project you’re working on. The remind-me-later button is nearly a reflex, making sure it doesn’t slow you down. After all, you will remember to update when you’re done. Won’t you?

We’re all human. Unfortunately, that means we’re all forgetful. When the pop-up comes back, we’ll be right in the middle of something important again, and the cycle continues.

Your computer’s security, and ultimately your company’s security, depends on simple vulnerabilities being fixed. A hacker could take the most insignificant vulnerability and turn it into a serious security incident.

Take a moment to save your work and install the updates.

5. Use strong, varied passwords.

This is perhaps the simplest of the five tips. A strong password helps to protect you from a hacker guessing your credentials. We tend to use passwords that contain words easily found in a dictionary or maybe our pet’s name. It’s understandable because we like to choose something we know we’ll remember.

As easy as it makes it for us to remember, this method makes it even easier for a hacker to guess your password and access your personal and work information. Even worse, if they guess that password, and you’re using the same one for multiple accounts, they now have easy access to a multitude of information.

Your preparation could be the difference between smooth sailing and a huge financial and reputation loss. You can employ any of these tactics quickly to strengthen your defenses. For a more in-depth resource on the topic, our free guide, Breach: A Guide to Network Security, Best Practices for Prevention, Detection, and Response, is available for download.

We can help keep your business safe from hackers. Contact LBMC Information Security today to learn more!