As technology advances, so do cybercriminals. Cyber attacks seem to be occurring more frequently than ever and hurting businesses throughout the world. Furthermore, for many small to enterprise-level businesses, a cybersecurity breach can quickly impact the business’s compliance with significant IT compliance regulations. Even companies with enterprise-level IT support can benefit from easy and necessary IT Security safeguards. Here are 3 easy ways to help safeguard yourself against a cybersecurity breach that takes only 5 minutes each week.
1. Change Your Passwords
Every IT network support progressional will tell you – change your passwords often! This fast and easy fix could save you from a cybersecurity threat. Set time aside to update your passwords on all of your accounts. Experts recommend having different passwords across all your personal network. This ensures that if one is compromised the hacker has access to only one system, not all of them.
Forget the tough passwords; new guidelines recommend keeping it simple. According to the United States National Institution for Standards and Technology (NIST), new password guidelines help you stay protected. NIST suggests, keeping your passwords simple, long, and memorable. Phrases, lowercase letters, and typical English words and objects are suggested when creating passwords. This recommendation had changed from when the organization suggested using unique characters and a mix of lower and uppercase letters.
These new guidelines may seem surprisingly easy, Paul Grassi, senior standards and technology adviser at NIST, who led the new revision of guidelines, says that these new guidelines will help users create longer passwords, which are harder for hackers to break.
Once a cybercriminal has access to your personal credentials they can impersonate you to send personal emails directly to your friends, family, and co-workers. Soon, and IT security breach can lead to imposter postings on your social networks where cybercriminals seek to collect even more sensitive information. This a small business managed network services nightmare. It is also often a socially and professionally embarrassing experience.
Managed IT Services Expert Tip:
A bank will never ask for personal information via email or suspend your account if you do not immediately update your personal information. Most banks and financial institutions usually provide an account number or other personal details within the email. This information is how you can ensure that the email or phone call is coming from a reliable source.
2. Think Before You Click
Many IT network security threats happen by accident. You see an email from an old friend or a significant update from your bank, and you just go ahead and click on the email without thinking. Unfortunately, these emails are socially engineered to look like they came from a trustworthy source, not a cybercriminal. Here are some things to think about before clicking an email.
One of the fastest ways to verify an email is to check all the hyperlinks. Take your mouse and hover over the directed hyperlink in an email. Make sure that the hyperlinks match the URL you land after clicking. Check for spelling errors in the web address. Popular websites are often manipulated but contain spelling errors. For example, if the hyperlink says www.mybank.com, but when you hover over it says wwwmybank.com, do not click it. If you suspect the link may be suspicious, better to not click it.
Is this offer too good to be true?
Most of these cybercriminals will present you with an eye-catching deal to make you think you have won a contest; you have not entered or asking you to claim a prize that is too good to be true. In an instance like this, it is best to remember that if the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you ever have questions, contact the organization directly from a contact page on a trusted website, or your business’s managed IT services team, not the email in question.
Who is sending this email?
Whether you know the sender or not, does the email make sense for you to receive? If not, do not even open it. Simply, delete and move on. Accidentally opening the email can cause IT security issues and potentially make you vulnerable to a cybersecurity threat. If someone you know is asking for money, call or text to verify. When in doubt, always think critically before acting.
3. Install Updates
We all know how annoying it can be when your computer continually reminds you to update your software. That said, an enterprise-level managed network services expert will tell you these updates are essential in protecting you against a cybersecurity threat. Updates give you more than just the latest and greatest features; they make sure you also have the most updated security to protect your IT network. Thousands of new malware variants run every day. Having out of date security software is almost as bad as having none at all.
Is your software up-to-date?
Your un-updated software is vulnerable. According to Sophos, cybercriminals can exploit this vulnerability by writing code explicitly targeting your network’s system. This can infect your computer without you ever taking action. When your computer is compromised, cybercriminals steal data and gain control over your computer and personal information.
Managed IT Services
The 5 minutes each week you devote to strengthening your network will help protect you from any future threats. Small to enterprise-level business owners who are not comfortable with handling their network’s security are good candidates for small business network services or enterprise level managed IT services. Managed IT services allow business owners to focus on their business rather than their system. RJ Young offers free network assessment for businesses. We can help ensure your organization is protected from IT security vulnerabilities.
The end of the year is a time of reflection for many business owners, as they reflect on the year past and set new goals with excitement and vitality—all in the name of getting more accomplished in the year ahead to achieve greater success. However, frequently, technology hiccups are hurdles to getting more done, or improving productivity, in small businesses.
These are 6 technology tips to help small business owners improve productivity and achieve more considerable success in the New Year.
1. Plan for New Technology—Before You Need It
Often poor planning leads to outdated technology and lack of funds to invest in new hardware (laptops to copiers), software or services to make upgrades to keep pace with a growing small business. During annual planning, create a technology roadmap, outlining anticipated needs for the coming year (or longer) and accrue funds and secure partners accordingly.
2. Conduct Regular PC Check Ups—Run Updates in Timely Manner
Installing updates to central operating systems is key to ensuring your network and personal computing devices run smoothly and to minimizing downtime. Lack of updating these systems often requires a call to vendors or consultants for support. These calls lead to downtime and unplanned expenses that set you back on your goals.
3. Electronic Data is More Efficient—Shift Documents to Electronic Files
The cost of producing paper records and managing paper documents adds up. Consider that printing costs reportedly consume 1-3% of annual revenues for most organizations, and the popular four-drawer filing cabinet is estimated to cost $25,000 to fill and $2,100 annually to maintain. This output in manual form is not searchable, shareable or secure. As document scanning, capture and storage systems are increasingly adopted by businesses of all sizes, look to a system to assist in document information management. Most multi-functional copiers are compatible with basic document management systems.
4. Secure Your Data—Back Up Data Regularly
Electronic data capture is essential to businesses. Securing the electronic data with a reliable, multi-pronged, systematic backup system is critical to ensure business continuity. Nearly half (44%) of the companies that experience a disaster never recover business data and almost as many (47%) go out of business in two years.
5. Seek Expert Help—Inexperience Can Cost You
Experienced IT managers can ensure your network is set-up according to best practices. A network designed to specs outside the IT industry norm can be costly to repair when issues do arise. Should you be forced to switch to another provider, the cost could exponentially grow as that team learns your unique network set-up.
6. Get the Most from What You Have—Office 365 Tips
Leveraging the investments you have already made can help you with productivity. Explore the functionality of the software and technology in which you have already made investments. Microsoft Office 365 is a conventional software package, which packs a lot of functionality in its various programs. Watch tutorials, join online forums or search for blog posts—such as this one—on tips on using this software to help with productivity.
Follow these six tips to help your small business avoid IT hiccups in the coming year, allowing you to focus on jumping the significant hurdles to increased productivity and success. Should you need help ensuring your small business information technology network is set-up for your success, let me help.
Sources: NAPO, Gartner, Cooper & Lybrand, Ernest & Young, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Document Management Research
Read more about Managed IT Services.
Mike Noffsinger, Director of Sales East
Mike is RJ Young’s Regional Director of Sales, East. Mike is responsible for sales in the Nashville, Chattanooga, Rome-Georgia and Huntsville markets and Managed IT Services, Software Solutions, High Volume/Production Print and Managed Print Services divisions throughout the Southeast. In his spare time, Mike enjoys Kentucky Wildcats basketball and is an avid mountain biker. Mike works out of our Nashville, TN office and is married with two children.