October is National Cyber Security Month, a good reminder about the importance of online safety at home and in the workplace. With more than 80,000 cyber-attacks per day or over 30 million per year, the question is not if you will be the target of a cyber-attack, but when.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has tested the security of online data even further. In 2020, more people than ever before began working from home, presenting an unprecedented opportunity for hackers and online scammers. According helpnetsecurity.com, as business and home life collided, cyber security professionals saw a 63 percent increase in cyber-attacks related to the pandemic. This startling new reality shows no signs of slowing down.
When it comes to cyber security, learning how to protect your home and business from cyber criminals is the best way to protect your data, systems and networks from a security breach.
Here are five of my top preventive tips to strengthen your cyber security:
Verify that your operating system is up to date (Windows 10)
Are you working on an outdated operating system? After 10 years, support for Microsoft’s Windows 7 ended earlier this year. Although your PC will still work, it will become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses because you will no longer receive software updates. Although most enterprise business customers have long since upgraded to Windows 10, it is still in use for many small businesses and personal home computers. In fact, Techspot reports Windows 7 is still used on a quarter of all PC’s today.
Use a password management system
The number one cause of data breaches and cyber threats is weak or stolen passwords. According to Keeper, more than 5 billion stolen usernames and passwords lurk on the dark web.
It is important to have strong passwords to make it harder for hackers to gain access to your accounts. Use a mix of uppercase and lowercase characters, numbers, symbols, phrases (such as song lyrics or movie phrases) and punctuation. Use a different password for each account so that if one is compromised, the damage is limited. Change your passwords regularly. But, keep the guesswork out of remembering your passwords by using a password management tool such as KeePass or Keeper.
Secure home Wi-Fi networks
With the increase of home offices, be sure you have a protected internet router/modem. Many people with home wireless networks do not take proper steps to secure network devices such as changing default logon credentials. This enables bad actors to easily compromise network devices by simply driving around neighborhoods while connecting to unsecure networks. The Center for Internet Security (CIS) offers some very useful information on securing your home network.
Use Multi-Factor Authentication
MFA, sometimes referred to as two-factor authentication or 2FA, is a simple but effective security enhancement that allows you to present two pieces of evidence – your credentials – when logging into an account. Your credentials fall into any of these three categories: something you know (like a password or PIN), something you have (like a smart card or Duo token), or something you are (like your fingerprint). Your credentials must come from two different categories to enhance security – so entering two different passwords would not be considered multi-factor.
Hold cyber security awareness training
Human error is considered one of the leading causes of data breaches. Therefore, companies of all sizes and industries should be proactive in ensuring employees know how to protect company and personal data, recognize phishing attempts and what to do if they think they have been fooled by a phishing scam.
Partner with your IT department (or the person who handles IT if you’re a small business) to develop company security policies, schedule regular employee training, share articles, hang posters in break rooms and common areas, turn phishing clicks into teachable moments and do your part to keep cyber security top of mind with employees. These are simple and cost-effective measures that will go a long way in protecting your data.
Let’s face it, we live in a digital world where online threats have never been more pervasive. Keeping your guard up at home and work takes time and effort. Do your part to keep your data safe and secure.
Founded in 1925, CopperPoint Insurance Companies is a leading provider of workers’ compensation and commercial insurance solutions operating in six southwestern states. To learn more about our insurance products and find resources to better manage your risks, explore our website or contact your independent insurance agent.