It is important, now more than ever, to ensure your business’ security and protection against cyber crime. Companies are the victims of data breaches and security attacks all the time. It’s easy to believe that these attacks are the result of intense or complicated finessing, but you may be surprised to learn that this is often not the case. Often it’s a result of an unprotected server – i.e., not having a password. 

Other times, attacks come in the form of emails disguising themselves as routine maintenance tasks like password updates. Companies like Hostinger and Foxit received a seemingly innocent password reset email that turned out to be a hack that obtained names, addresses, phone numbers, company names and phone numbers. Others, just this year, include First American Financial Corp and the Oregon Department of Health Services, the latter of  which was on the receiving end of a nasty phishing attack that resulted in over 2 million emails with names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers and other sensitive information being lost. 

What is cyber crime? 

Cyber crime is any criminal offense that involves a computer or a digital network. This can include things like making threats of violence, committing hate crimes, stealing sensitive information and any other activity that would also be considered illegal in the offline world. 

In the context of businesses, financial institutions and other organizations, the most common type of cyber crime activity is associated with data fraud, theft or permanent damage to a computer’s internal systems, all of which the motive is financial gain. 

The consequences for businesses are major. According to a report from McAfee, the economic losses due to cyber crime came out to almost $600 billion in 2017. Additionally, company share prices can drop as investors are more reluctant to place value in your business. Likewise, customers may lose confidence in your company and cancel services and not return. Your business can also be sued or face hefty fines for a lack of proper attention to making sure customer data is protected. 

Fortunately there are steps you and your employees can take to help protect your business against cyber attacks. Below are ten of the most common ways to avoid becoming a victim of cyber crime. 

How to protect your business against cyber crime

1. Don’t click links in emails, especially if coming from first-time senders or senders you don’t know. Considering that email is one of the top platforms and a favorite of hackers for inciting harmful ransomware attacks, you should also turn off the option to auto-download email attachments. Also pay attention to misspellings in emails and URLs.

2. Keep your software (especially your anti-virus) updated. One of the most common ways a cyber attack occurs is through outdated software. Consider implementing 24/7 threat-monitoring and add Incident Monitoring software as part of your cyber security plan. These kinds of programs can quickly stop an attack in its tracks and are less likely to fail if you update them regularly.

3. Always use a firewall and make sure any Wi-Fi networks are encrypted and password secure. A firewall blocks unauthorized access by monitoring traffic according to a list of rules. Having an encrypted connection is another safety net so that if unauthorized traffic does somehow get through, data isn’t lost or stolen.

4. Use strong passwords and change them regularly. Another one of the most common ways a cyber crime occurs is through a poorly created user password. The risks are greater when that password isn’t updated from time to time. If any of your passwords or your employees’ passwords are on this list, you might consider having them changed sooner rather than later.

5. Create and store backup copies of important business information. This is especially useful if you are the target of a ransomware attack in which your files are locked unless you provide sensitive information.

6. Educate your employees about the principles of cyber security. You can have all the above, but if your employees aren’t also practicing the tenets outlined here your business may have an increased security risk.

7. Define access privileges and limit full functionality access to administrators only. You can assign different levels of access to team members based on role or function, just be sure to include the installation of software as an administrator only privilege. Lastly, make sure each employee has their own individual access profile and that there are no shared accounts.

8. Have a security incident response plan in place if something does happen. Steps to include in your plan might be deciding who should respond, what his or her responsibilities should be, how to handle any necessary communication with third-party vendors and service providers and to evaluate breach-related expenses.

9. Before agreeing to work with any new third-party vendor, be sure to assess the vulnerability risk by asking the right questions first. Important questions might be, “Are you confident that your employees would never engage in risky behavior that could be seen as a security risk?”, “In what ways do you protect your networks, systems and data?” and “How closely do you adhere to your organization’s security regulations?”

10. Consider other security methods offline. Many financial and government institutions require badged entry and include camera surveillance among some of the ways they supervise and monitor employees and visitors. You’ll want to make sure your staff know how to protect their environments if they work remotely as well. For example, consider investing in a VPN so your remote team can access important files over an encrypted connection safely and securely.

With advances in technology that give hackers more ways to steal your data and the rate at which large-scale data breaches are occurring, it’s incredibly important for businesses to do what they can to protect themselves from cyber attacks. Taking the steps above can bring you closer to achieving security against the most devastating of threats and arm you to act quickly should something happen. 

TPVNinja can help you through the third-party verification process quickly and securely all while ensuring that you never lose any important consumer data. Making the decision to sign up with TPVNinja streamlines the process for your customers and saves you valuable time. Schedule your demo today.