Despite the ubiquity of modern technology, people often still seem polarised on their feelings about it. There are those who understand and enjoy using the latest software and gadgets, and those who identify as “non-technical” and see these things as more of a necessary evil.
If you’re running a business, the chances are you work with people in both camps. While it’s unlikely you’ll ever change someone who’s timid about tech into an enthusiast, it’s wise to create a technically-aware working environment. This will ensure that your company makes the most of technology whilst remaining mindful of the risks it introduces.
The risks we refer to are very real; 43% of hacking attempts target smaller businesses, so it’s naïve to assume that only the big names are targets. Furthermore, more than half of the IT security incidents that occur do so due to human error. This alone emphasises the need to engage the less technical in conversations about cybersecurity.
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With all this in mind, here are five “tech habits” your business can adopt to reduce the risks that technology exposes it to:
As discussed above, “human error” is behind plenty of cyberattacks, and this human error often involves people being hoodwinked into giving away passwords or other personal details.
No amount of antivirus software will protect against an employee telling their system password to someone who phones them pretending to be from Microsoft or “the IT department.” Similarly, no amount of protection will stop somebody being tricked into revealing a username and password to a fake PayPal login page after clicking out from a phishing email.
It’s therefore crucial that everyone understands that this is how many hackers launch their attacks – it’s all about social engineering and not about technical mastery. Once people understand this, they will understand that they have some personal responsibility for system security.
Full disk encryption
Remote and mobile working is the norm for most companies nowadays, which means the use of laptops that can get lost. What many people don’t know is that despite a system password, an unencrypted laptop is simplicity itself to access – all anyone need do is remove the hard drive and access the files directly.
As such, if your company has laptops “on the road,” make use of full disk encryption so that data is safely encrypted if a laptop is ever lost or stolen. On modern Macs and “professional” versions of Microsoft Windows, this feature is included and merely needs activating.
Use of VPNs
VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) were once used almost exclusively to provide remote access to company systems. However, VPN services are now widely used to improve online privacy, make it safer to use public Wi-Fi, and to access streaming media services from other countries.
If you or your staff travel regularly, it makes sense to use a VPN service as a matter of course when connecting to Wi-Fi in hotels and cafés. Doing so has the pleasing side-effect of making region-locked streaming services available too.
If you’re in the habit of clicking the “remind me later” option when a software update pops up, it’s a habit you need to break. You should also ensure your staff all know that software updates are really important.
Updates often come out because companies have uncovered significant security glitches in their software, and there have been some high-profile examples of this happening in recent months. Failing to apply system updates means that computers aren’t protected from vulnerabilities that hackers will be actively working to exploit. An update postponed for a day can soon become one postponed for a month.
Proper password security
Despite constant warnings, people continue to use weak passwords, and use the same passwords for multiple online accounts.
Outlawing this practice in your business will do much to improve security. Simple, non-complex passwords are incredibly easy to crack, making life very easy for hackers. Using complex passwords or phrases should be mandatory – however much people may complain about your insistence!
With so many hackers out there actively trying to compromise systems, there’s sadly nothing you can do to provide yourself with total IT security. However, following these simple steps can put you in a stronger position than other companies who do nothing to shore up their defences.