Whether your business is big or small, it can get targeted by hackers. It’s easy to feel uncertain about how to protect your sensitive information. It’s also easy to get overwhelmed with confusing advice. What you might not know is that a lot can be accomplished quickly and easily. We have listed four simple ways to prevent data breaches.
Data breaches – a simple definition
Data breaches are incidents of sensitive or protected data being accessed without authorisation. Typically, a data breach exposes personal information. Anything from healthcare history to credit card numbers and corporate information. Unauthorised access can go undetected for a long time or never be discovered at all.
Something as mundane as an unauthorised person glancing at sensitive information on a computer screen could be called a data breach. But we are going to focus on the ones caused by hackers.
Arm yourself with knowledge
Just like how no one wants anyone to break into their house, no one wants anyone to breach their data. Still, some casually forget to lock the back door of their house. Some even leave it open for easy access. And even though most people use a password online, they choose something simple for convenience. The thing is, that with a bit of know-how, you can take a big leap in online security without changing your day to day activities very much.
So, if you’re running a small to medium business, don’t become discouraged. Big corporations might have large budgets and teams dedicated to cybersecurity. But the fact is, most hacks are not that complicated. Most attacks pray on bad passwords and a lack of knowledge about what is needed to compromise a system. Hackers look for low-hanging fruit. Easy targets. So, arming yourself and your employees with knowledge about what you’re up against is an excellent start.
1. Strengthen your passwords and make them unique
First, get yourself stronger passwords. Stolen or weak passwords are used in an overwhelming majority of data breaches.
Second, don’t use the same password in two places. It may seem convenient to use the same password everywhere, but that’s not how to protect yourself from data breaches.
In recent years huge sites such as LinkedIn and Yahoo have suffered breaches of millions of credentials for user accounts. If you use the same or similar passwords on multiple sites and one gets hacked, the credentials from the hacked site might be used to gain unauthorised access to your accounts on other sites.
It wouldn’t be very practical to have to remember a different password for every account. At least not without help. Luckily enough there are various “passwords managers” available online to help you generate and remember strong and unique passwords. The only password you need to remember is the one for the password manager.
2. Keep an eye out for phishing
Don’t take the content of e-mails at face value. Phishing e-mails have probably shown up in your inbox before and will do so again. The goal of the sender can be to make you click on a website, triggering the installation of malware. They might also try to convince you to give away your password or other sensitive information.
But how can you protect yourself from this kind of data breach? Knowing what warning signals to look out for is key to not getting fooled. Keep an eye out for poor grammar and spelling, as well as e-mail addresses or links that contain an unusual number of full stops.
If you’ve stumbled onto a suspect website, check the URL. Does it say “HTTP” or “HTTPS”? Take it as a warning sign if the answer is “HTTP”, as it means that your communication with the page is not encrypted. This especially goes for pages where you would enter sensitive information such as credit card numbers.
Websites and e-mails used for phishing can look official at first glance. If you get an unusual looking e-mail from an organisation you trust, do not click on any links in it. Go to their website as you normally would and contact customer service or log in.
3. Go on and update your software
When companies such as Microsoft or Apple offer an update to your software, it will usually be because they found a vulnerability in the system and fixed it. Installing a patch gives you the latest and safest version of the system. Take the time.
4. Encrypt everything (it’s a lot easier than it sounds)
In the event of a breach, make life difficult for the hackers. By encrypting hard drives and databases you can make breached information hard to understand. Using a modern algorithm to protect your data with encryption is quicker and easier than you might think.
5. Use EyeOnPass
We created EyeOnPass to help businesses make their account holders choose safe passwords. By safe, we mean passwords that have never fallen into the hands of cybercriminals. For example, when a new user signs up, we can tell if the password has at some point been part of a breach. Our database contains over one billion breached passwords and is still growing. Contact us and find out more about how to protect your clients and your business from data breaches!
As we have established, knowledge is an essential way to prevent data breaches. So follow our four steps and map out how your specific organisation handles sensitive information. Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for making your business safer!