From ransomware attacks to spear phishing designed to target decision makers and compromise intellectual property, security threats are multiplying faster than many businesses can adapt to.

If you want to avoid becoming the next cautionary tale, it’s important to understand the risks and know how to protect yourself. The more you know about these established threats, the easier it will be to prevent them. Here are some steps you can take to enhance your security and protect your business in an increasingly unsafe online world.

1) Enable Two-Factor Authentication

If you’re relying on passwords alone to secure your network and protect sensitive data, you are one step away from truly securing that information. With so many widely known data breaches, there’s a good chance some of the passwords you use are already in the wild.

This is why two-factor authentication is such a vital part of any comprehensive security program. With two-factor authentication, you can create an extra layer of security that builds redundancy and offers peace of mind.

It is important to note that most, if not all online and business accounts use two-factor authentication, and implementing this strategy is not as complicated as you might think. Since most systems already have two-factor authentication built in, adding extra security is simply a matter of turning it on.

2) Close Any Accounts You’re Not Using

From the secondary email account you thought you needed to the app that looked great but wasn’t, you probably have a lot of extraneous programs running on your personal devices and business network. Each one of those unused accounts is a security risk, and closing them can lower this risk.

Start by taking inventory of all programs and accounts on your network. With this list, you can close accounts you no longer need. By removing this unnecessary data, you can reduce the risk posed by those old and frequently unsecured accounts.

3) Have Strong (and Unique) Passwords

A solid password strategy is key to online security and identity protection, but long and complicated credentials are not enough. If you want to protect yourself and your data, you need to make sure your passwords are unique as well as complex.

Repeating passwords across multiple accounts and websites is a dangerous practice that is all too common in the business world. You can start by setting a good example, then implement policies that require employees to establish unique passwords for every account they create and every password-protected website they visit.

4) Password Protect Your Phone

The smartphone in your pocket is much more than a communication device – it is a tiny computer vulnerable to attack. As such, your phone deserves its own protection, starting with a strong password.

If you are not protecting your mobile devices with strong passwords, you could be handing hackers the keys to the kingdom. If just one of your mobile devices is compromised, cyber criminals could use that access to roam the rest of your network, taking control of the system, stealing proprietary information and even implementing a ransomware attack.

If your organization is bring your own device (BYOD) friendly, it is critical to have a solid mobile device management plan in place. Allowing employees to use their personal devices makes sense from a business and cost standpoint, but only if those workers understand their responsibilities and take security risks seriously.

5) Be Mindful of What You Publish About Yourself and Your Business

It’s great to have a presence on social media, but sharing too much information could put your security at risk. Be mindful about what you publish online.

Hackers view social media as a rich source of information, and they routinely harvest that data. An resourceful hacker could use the digital clues you leave behind to guess your passwords, and if they guess correctly they could soon be roaming through your network undetected.

6) Watch What Others Are Saying

It is not just what you say about yourself that puts your security at risk. Information shared by others, including customers and your own employees, could also give hackers a back door into the company network.

It often starts innocently enough. A business, proud of an employee’s achievement, might post about it online, but that proud moment could have negative consequences depending on who is watching.

The threat posed by third-party information is all too real. This very thing happened to one of Ontech’s clients, and within a week hackers were already spoofing the individual who was promoted by the business.

7) Integrate AI Defense for Mailboxes

Artificial intelligence can be used to protect company email accounts. Once that AI defense is fully integrated, it can monitor company email for unusual activity and suspiciously heavy traffic. If a problem is detected, the AI can notify an administrator, allowing them to take action and head off an attack. Want to implement AI into your email defense? Contact us online or call 262-522-8560 for more information.

8) Be Mindful of Your Internet Connection

Not all internet connections are the same – some are riskier than others. Never log into accounts containing sensitive information via public Wi-Fi, and pay close attention to the type of connection you are using.

9) Do Not Use Free Emails for Business

Free email may be fine for personal use, but these accounts are inappropriate and dangerous for businesses. It may be tempting to use a free email address as a secondary address but this creates a major risk for the business, so stick to business accounts while at work.

10) Watch Out for Phishing Emails

Phishing attacks take many forms, and they have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years. You can never be too careful. At Ontech Systems, we’ve recently seen an uptick in phishing emails targeting QuickBooks and other accounting software.

Ultimately, the greater the level of adoption, the more likely hackers will target users of the software program. Pay close attention to the software you use, and always be suspicious when you receive an email requesting personal or proprietary information.

If you have questions about how to secure your online identity or protect your business, just contact Ontech Systems. We can help you develop a comprehensive security plan for your business to lock down your systems and reduce the risks posed by hackers and cyber criminals.

Ready to get started?

Call us at 262-522-8560 for a quick 10-minute chat to see if we’re a good fit or submit a request online and let us know how we can help.

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