The reliance on computers and data technology systems has never been more paramount for businesses and their success. These systems are responsible for making our day-to-day operations more efficient and productive, as well as housing client information, marketing data and so much more. So how are you protecting it from a cyber attack?

Most organizations, especially as they become larger, will have their own security measures in place such as firewalls, limitations or password access only, but this does not mean your data is invincible. In fact businesses are seeing more and more incidents of data breaches and cyber attacks than ever before. Let’s look into some ways to protect your business from these threats.

Tip #1: Encrypt Your Data

Many people will read this tip and think, ‘encrypt our data ya we need to that! Oh wait, how do I do that? What does encrypting data even mean?’ and become overwhelmed with anything to do with the word encryption. But sit tight. Encrypted messages data back long before you and I were on the planet. The key to encryption is only the sender and the receiver can decipher the message based on the code. But you aren’t hear for a history lesson you’re here to know how to do this (although if you do want the history visit HowtoGeek). When we talk about encryption on the web today the most popular implementation is known as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). You have seen this security protocol in your own adventures; you just may not have known it! If you visit a website, such as the one you are on right now you will notice where the website address is (or the URL) it has https:// rather than http://. That ‘s’ indicates the secure transfer of information on that website with any other devices it may interact with. To obtain an SSL certificate you need to purchase one, typically you will purchase it from your website hosting company or domain name provider. This process can be complicated so it is usually best to use a developer or your web hosting agency to add the security certificate for you.

Note: Adding an SSL certificate to your website may not be necessary if you do not handle or acquire users information.

Tip #2: Outsource Online Payments

On most e-commerce websites you visit you will actually notice their payments are managed by a third party. The reason for this is these vendors focus their efforts solely on the payment side so they have dedicated security measures to ensure their system works. Bottom line this is their business and they can do it better.

Note: if using a third party make sure they are a reputable source before partnering.

Tip #3: Secure Your Router

It is not uncommon these days for businesses to provide free WiFi in their locations. The Internet Service Provider (ISP) can monitor all unencrypted traffic. The good news is, for customers, is that most ISP use their own security and do not pay attention to this information, but that doesn’t mean someone else can’t or won’t. You should only provide a public access router with a Wireless Public Access 2 (WPA2) password for your users. This way there is at least a password to get onto the WiFi. Unfortunately for you, the business owner you have no control over the security measures that each potential user would have in place.

You may also use WiFi within your office or business to connect to the Internet. It is more secure to use a router because in order to be on the network you have to be physically plugged in, but we realize that is not always an option. If your staff uses WiFi ensure that it is WPA2 password protected.

Tip #4: Educate Your Employees

Employees can be a gateway for hackers or cyber attacks if they are not informed of the potential dangers. Communicating to employees about what information is confidential and what their responsibilities are to protect data available to them is crucial. Restricting access to certain websites, or internet categories may also be a useful way to prohibit employees from opening potential cyber threats. Almost everyone uses email these days and most scams are now performed through the use of email. Educate your team on signs to detect a potential email attack and what to do in the event they receive one.

Note: hovering your mouse over a link in an email will show the url the link is going to. Make sure this link is legitimate before clicking through.

Tip #5: Remain Informed

The digital world is constantly changing and as systems become more sophisticated so do hackers and their ability to obtain your data. Think like a hacker is the term that experts use help protect you. However it is not much help if you do not have the knowledge of how networks work and for most of us that is that case. Hiring a true IT expert is an important step for large companies but for the smaller businesses you need to do your best to stay informed. Use the resources around you, ask people in your own network of their experiences, and talk to us about finding a cyber insurance policy.