Online security is a critical concern for any business that uses the Internet, which is virtually everyone. You can’t take your Internet safety too seriously. Hackers are constantly working to find a way around the latest developments in safety, so you have to be just as vigilant in protecting yourself.
Educate Your Employees
Employee error is at the root of many security breaches. While your workers may have the best intentions, they often lack the knowledge necessary to properly protect your business from Internet threats. Instruct your employees never to open an email attachment or follow the link in an email from an unknown source. Only communicate and do business on secure websites. Look for https: in the web page address as opposed to simply http:. This is an easy indicator of a secure site.
If employees access business documents from personal devices, set forth guidelines on the security measures they must use. This applies to mobile devices as well as home computers your employees may use when working remotely.
Install a Firewall
Most companies think to use anti-virus software, but they don’t always remember the firewall. A firewall is a piece of software or hardware that provides an important line of protection at the vulnerable point where the computer connects to the Internet. You should have a hardware firewall, like a router, that protects your entire network as well as a software firewall on each individual computer.
Encrypt Your Data
Anytime you’re sending sensitive data over the Internet, it’s crucial that you encrypt that information. Credit card numbers, order numbers, customer names and contact information, and proprietary research are all sensitive. Don’t leave anything vulnerable as it’s travelling over the Internet. Encrypt it for the journey.
Security software providers can supply you with several options for encrypting your data. Look for a business level solution that will encrypt your emails as well as any data that you send over the Internet. While you'll find many websites offer their own encryption, this is a layer of protection that your customers will expect you to provide on your own end for your interactions with them.
Install Security Updates Promptly
One of the biggest mistakes you can make with your Internet security is failure to update promptly. Any time there’s a security patch or update for your software or operating system, it’s crucial that you install that update immediately.
This applies to every device your company uses. Make sure your employees understand that they need to install all security updates for their mobile devices, including smart phones, tablets, and laptop computers if they’re going to use these to access company information. Something as simple as a smartphone used to check company email can become a point of vulnerability if the user is working with an outdated operating system.
Hackers evolve constantly and the only way to keep ahead of them is to make sure you’re using the most recent version available for all your security. Send out memos anytime there’s an upgrade, and rely on cloud technology when possible, where security updates are typically handled by the service provider.
Regularly Test Your Security Systems
Set a schedule for testing your security systems and adhere strictly to your calendar. At a bare minimum, you should test the system quarterly. Better yet is a monthly test for weaknesses. Any time you find a point of vulnerability, you need to take action to strengthen your security at that point. Test again after every update until you’re satisfied with the results.
There are numerous programs and web sites that will help you test your system's security. Your security software should have testing functions built in as well. Use a port test service to evaluate the strength of your firewall, use an anti-malware test file like EICAR to make sure your antivirus protection is working, and use a software inspection program to look for programs on your computer that are vulnerable to security threats because they're behind on updates.
These steps will help you keep your business as safe as possible. However, it’s important to understand that no security plan is fail proof. Have an action plan in place for recovery and damage control in the event that your Internet security is compromised as well, so you can minimize the impact as quickly as possible