As more Americans use personal devices for their jobs, the lines between work and our daily lives are becoming increasingly blurred. As a result, that puts businesses and employees at more risk than ever for data breaches and identity theft. Improving online safety at work is a shared responsibility of everyone within the company. Thankfully, there are some basic steps that can protect companies and their employees from cyberattacks.
5 easy ways for employees to mitigate risk and stay safe online at work
WATCH YOUR WI-FI CONNECTION
If an employee connects an insecure smart device such as a watch or a personal assistant like Alexa to the office Wi-Fi network, this creates a risk for hackers to gain access to the work network and cause havoc. It is especially dangerous at organizations in industries with sensitive information such as healthcare or government.
When in doubt, it’s better to leave your connected devices at home. If you do need them, connect them to a guest network – or one that doesn’t have access to the same devices where sensitive information is being stored – if possible. Also, don’t use smart assistants in the same room where private meetings take place, as they can record what they hear and store the conversations in the company database where others may have access to them.
KEEP SOFTWARE UPDATED
Chances are your office IT expert has directed you to update your computer’s software and operating system. Perhaps you keep forgetting or think it’s not totally necessary, therefore putting it off. Don’t make that mistake! These updates don’t just add new features; they also fix bugs and security vulnerabilities in the system to help you avoid the latest malware schemes. Waiting for computers to download the latest software while they reboot can be annoying, but not as annoying as losing your data and putting your devices and the entire work network at risk.
BACK UP YOUR FILES
One of the most prevalent frauds right now is corporate and individual ransomware, according to Eduard Goodman, Chief Privacy Officer of Sontiq, the parent company of CyberScout. In fact, nearly 46% of small businesses have experienced a run-in with ransomware or a security threat – which is when files or data are held hostage by hackers. To retrieve your stolen information, the hackers require a ransom payment, which can range in the hundreds for individuals to millions of dollars for large corporations. Unfortunately, in some cases, paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee that you will get your data back.
Frequent data backup is the best way to protect yourself or your company against ransomware, according to Goodman. If you backup and encrypt data before hackers strike, you should have a safe and easy way to recover your data without worrying about paying the ransom.
MAKE IT HARDER FOR HACKERS
Your goal should be to set up as many obstacles for hackers as possible so that they give up and move on.
- Use a complex password with at least 10-12 random characters, including a mix of lowercase and capital letters, numbers and special characters. That means no more pet names, family names or other words that are simply “easy to remember.”
- Create different passwords for each account.
- Enable multi-factor authentication as an added layer of protection.
- Make sure that you are using your company’s secure and encrypted connection. This is often through a VPN (virtualized personal network) that employees can dial into when they are working remotely.
AVOID PRIVATE POSTING AND SEARCHES
Avoid improper web browsing at work, uploading private photos and data to shared drives and engaging with any unfamiliar links, emails or pop-ups. Employees should also monitor their email for any suspicious activity and immediately report it to the appropriate office manager or IT leader.
Social media can also be another culprit, so avoid accidentally posting personal updates from a company channel. If you are using a company phone, don’t upload social apps, as they could have serious security implications.
For more information on how to protect your data at home and at work, review cybersecurity tips and contact a Rural Mutual agent to learn more about data breach protection for your business.
The information provided in external website links is for general informational purposes only and does not form any recommendation or warranty by Rural Mutual Insurance Company or its affiliates.