You need to look no further than the headlines to know cyber security is of prime importance to every company that uses the internet. Of course, you are acquainted with the massive shortages of fuel and supply chain disruptions caused by ransomware hackers. You know as well that allowing these internet pirates to succeed plays into the hands of our nation’s international adversaries. The big stories, however, do not cover the plethora of ills befalling a firm whose internet security is breached. You may not detect the breach initially, meaning your private information, operational plans and finances are laid bare without your knowledge. If you do discover the breach, there is almost invariably a halt to operations, even if you are not faced with a crippling ransomware payoff. You know the dangers of being hacked. Here are some ideas about how to avoid it.
Transport Layer Security Has Surpassed Secure Socket Layers
In the past, state-of-the-art business security was bound up with a default cryptographic protocol called Secure Socket Layers (SSL). You saw evidence of this whenever you saw a little padlock symbol associated with a website. This was a basic form of encryption meant to protect your connection to a site. Similarly, Transport Layer Security (TLS) was developed to authenticate the connection between two websites. Much as computer operating systems continued to develop over time, distinct TLS versions also evolved to the point that TLS 1.2. is now available. This encryption protocol has the ability to verify the authenticity of users from the initial handshake, or request by one site to engage another. Since this form of TLS is the current choice form for securing internet communication, it is essential that you verify its use on your site.
Beef Up Your Wi-Fi Security
Beyond engaging the latest TLS protocol, there are several other steps you can take to safeguard your company’s online security. This begins with increasing your firm’s wi-fi privacy. Obviously, it is essential that the network be hidden—that is, the router is password protected—and encrypted. Make certain that the network name is never visible. This priority extends beyond the walls of your business to the mobile devices and external sites belonging to your employees or constantly used by them. In a nutshell, any employee using individual devices to access the company’s internal communication and information must use the same degree of encryption and secure apps as in use in the business network. Any lost, stolen or exchanged devices must be reported immediately and the company must know what devices all employees are using for access.
Control Access and Create Your Own Accounts
A newly hired employee at a major banking establishment sat down at his desk on his first day and opened his favorite music app on his office computer. To his astonishment, the computer immediately shut down and his two immediate supervisors walked into his cubicle. He learned quickly that his business computer was used just for that—business. Two of the most commonly used entries used by malicious hackers are Trojan horses that look like business communications and, ironically, outside messages sent to company employees. If your company eliminates the use of business-used computers for any outside communication, you have immediately blocked one of the major venues hackers can use. Also, whenever it is necessary for employees to engage an account, it should be one that the company itself has authorized and opened.
Go With Multi-Layer Authentication to Access Your Network
One of the major security enhancements now coming into common use is Multi-Layered Authentication. Essentially this is akin to physically going to the will-call ticket window to pick up tickets you have already paid for and the staffer asks for a picture ID and at least one other form of positive identification. Layered identification can also function in steps: you can only proceed to the second form of ID after you have passed the first verification. A similar form of security is called Multi-Factored Authentication. This is like being required to have an ID, a secret password and a call from your mom. In action, these different types of factors may be the ID of the computer you are using—which is remembered by the system—a pin separately sent to your registered cellphone and some information you provided, like the name of your first pet.
Train Your Employees
Preceding all of these proactive steps is the obvious necessity of educating all your employees who will ever need to sign onto a company computer. The better your security system, the less detailed the required training will be. It is preferable to be able to say, “never do this,” “always do that” and “you must be authorized in order to do anything.”
Basic security protocols are fairly simple to teach and are the first line of defense against the bad actors with no stake in your business who would thoughtlessly ruin your business.