Online security is a bigger topic than ever these days. Individuals and businesses alike are learning that they better go out of their way to protect things like passwords and financial records if they don’t want to fall prey to hackers. And at the same time, the consequences of theft and data breaches are more severe than ever.
What gets lost in all the concern about online security, however, is that the best pieces of advice tend to be the simplest. Most cyber crimes don’t happen because cyber criminals are using sophisticated technology or expertise, but instead because we tend to leave the front doors to our websites and financial accounts wide-open.
To help keep you better protected, here are seven simple online security tips you can start using immediately:
#1: Use Strong Passwords
One survey suggested that more than 10% % of Americans use “1234” as their ATM pin numbers, and that a similar number use passwords like “password.” Changing yours to a complicated mix of upper and lower case letters, with some numbers and special characters thrown in, makes it almost impossible for automated hacking tools to gain access to your accounts.
#2: Change Your Passwords Regularly
While we’re on the subject of passwords, be sure you change yours every 3 to 6 months. And, if you have to ask, it’s a good idea to have different passwords for all the major websites and services you use.
#3: Be Stingy With Sensitive Data
A password is only a password if some people don’t know it. It’s amazing how many offices we’ve seen where everyone has permission to log into the company server, or charge items to the owner’s credit card. Think carefully about who needs access to which pieces of information in your business, and then seal off any loose ends.
#4: Back Up Everything, and Back it Up Often
Whether you lose data because of a problem with technology or a lack of security, having extensive, validated, and up-to-date backups is extraordinarily important. Make sure you aren’t just keeping a copy of critical files, but that they are somewhere safe and password-protected.
#5: Take Advantage of Security Patches
When it comes to things like web hosting packages and financial software, it’s critical that you install patches and updates as they come out. Often, these contain the fixes to security breaches that have been discovered, to someone else’s misfortune. Software providers are constantly closing the door on hackers, so take the protection offered by ongoing updates.
#6: Keep the Right Company
This is good advice for life, of course, but especially applies to your online relationships. Don’t visit websites that you can’t trust (especially online casinos and other adult-themed destinations), and certainly don’t respond to messages, click on links, or download attachments from others you don’t know. This applies for social media, as well – just because someone looks friendly doesn’t mean they just want to be your friend.
#7: Keep a Close Eye on Websites and Accounts
Once a week or so, take a quick look through your business website and financial accounts. Often, the easiest way to tell you’ve been a victim of cyber crime is with a simple eye test. Discovering that something is wrong might not be pleasant, but it can keep the issue from getting worse (as it would if it were undiscovered).
None of these tips is sophisticated, but they all work. Start using them today, and you’ll greatly decrease the risks associated with hacking, identity theft, and other Internet crimes.
Is your web design and Internet marketing firm looking out for you the way they should be? If not, now is the perfect time to schedule a free consultation with the WebRevelation team.