Don’t be the person responsible for the loss of private or proprietary information. Protect your business info by following these steps.
Having your identity stolen is a common fear in this day and age. Slightly newer is the fear of having personal info (or, ahem, photos) leaked to the public at large. Either of these can cause problems for burgeoning professionals, so we need to be careful how we handle our personal info.
But it isn’t just our personal lives and reputations at stake; the information we safeguard for our employers is just as important to protect. No one wants to be responsible for the loss of private or proprietary information.
In the interest of keeping your and your business’s information safe, here are some suggestions for what to do to make sure your professional life is safe from hackers. (Click here to tweet this list.)
1. Know thine enemy and familiarize yourself with the threats
It’s impossible to protect against threats you don’t foresee. Being aware of what’s out there is the first step towards securing your business’s information.
Certain kinds of threats are more dangerous to business information security than others. The top threats you’ll likely run into are the old favorites:
- Malware infections have risen in prevalence, even over the last five years.
- Phishing attempts are by and large dropping because users are now less trusting of electronic messages. But they’re still very much a threat, especially to less tech-savvy employees.
- Bots are ever-present and pose a danger because uneducated computer users aren’t always savvy about what they are and what they do. Take a look at the enemy you’re up against and set up security accordingly.
To make sure you’re aware of any emerging threats, stay abreast of recent trends in security breaches. Read the news and blog posts on sites like Krebs on Security, Troy Hunt and Security Bloggers Network. Your up-to-date knowledge will impress your superiors and establish you as proactive. Here’s a great guide on security threats that SMBs face, which could prove useful as evidence to your boss that your concerns are valid.
2. Assess your security situation
Now that you’re aware of what’s lurking in the wild, you can effectively evaluate what info aggressors might want from you and your business.
Depending on what industry you operate in, the info thieves might want to mine from you will vary. By and large, that will consist of personal info used to steal identities. Identifying what you have that thieves think is worth stealing will be half the battle. Obviously, the top contenders are social security numbers, bank and routing numbers and passcodes.
Once you know what people are looking for, take stock of the security that you have in place to keep it from them.
3. Change your habits
Based on your assessment, you can begin to fortify existing stratagems and rectify gaps left in them.
On a personal level, you can protect your professional identity by opting for multiple-step verification on all of your accounts and subscriptions. You should take the same measures at work since there’s a good chance your work email deals with some sensitive information, as well.
There are several ways to add layered security to your business communications and info. This might include adding encryptions to your program logins or simply disabling cloud backups on unsecured networks.
Staying vigilant is the most important part of any security plan. Continuous updates to security systems are essential. Security companies are in the business of tracking threats and will issue updates to software to keep pace with hackers. Therefore, one of the simplest steps you can take is to ensure you’re running the latest edition of your security programs.
4. Share the knowledge
Encourage your company to address its security policies, from password standards and outside device rules and regulations to wifi security rules and web-searching guidelines. Are employees downloading info onto flash drives? Are they giving out their passwords to other people? You can help keep your colleagues safe with simple awareness and minimal effort.
Maximizing the impact of your security-conscious habits and getting your coworkers on board isn’t all that difficult. Suggest a security training course for employees and, if need be, offer to organize it. This will not only help keep your company’s info secure but also establish you as a team player. If it falls to you to take the lead and design a course, make sure you cover what we’ve detailed here so your teammates (and managers) have the tools they need to stay informed and vigilant.
For a more management-level view of business information security, start with this infographic by the University of Alabama at Birmingham‘s Collat School of Business. This top-down view of the issues will help put you in the manager mindset and give you a greater understanding of security concerns on a company-wide scale.
Kirk Kerr is a marketing major from the College of Idaho. He balances working at his day job and his entrepreneurial ambitions. When he’s not putting his nose to the grindstone, he enjoys sports video games, binge watching Netflix, and button mashing on his Xbox One.