Is Your Data At Risk? Here’s How To Protect Your Information Online
Finding the right ways to protect your information online in the age of big data and hacking is nerve-wracking. Here's how to stay safe
If you’ve opened up your inbox only to spot yet another email from a company saying they’ve been affected by a data breach, you know how at-risk your information is in today’s digital world. Cybersecurity is quickly growing as one of the top technology concerns of businesses these days, as private information is being bought and sold for a premium across online black markets. If you’re worried about whether or not your business’s information is at risk, this is what you need to know.
Common security risks
Nowadays, it’s easy to underestimate the likelihood of a cyber attack on your business. In fact, you’ve probably come across several attempts to gain access to your private information that you simply weren’t aware of. That’s right: Most cyber attacks are disguised as to better stand a chance at taking advantage of you or your employees. One of the most common information theft attempts comes in the form of phishing scams. While your email’s spam folder probably has several of these in it right now, the same goes for your work inbox.
Phishing attempts involve people impersonating companies and colleagues and requesting sensitive information like logins, passwords, and credit card numbers. While they’re typically easier to spot, phishers are getting more sophisticated with their methods. If you’re ever unsure of the validity of a request, reach out to the person or company directly before proceeding so you know you’re keeping your information secure.
Another common information theft method is known as a brute force attack. Brute force attacks use tools called crackers to attempt to guess login information using password dictionaries and the like until one of their guesses is successful. If you have strong passwords company-wide, you’re hopefully safe. If not, you might want to consider implementing a policy that requires special characters and passwords of a certain length to protect sensitive information.
The information trade
It’s a frightening reality, but one of the reasons information theft is so prominent these days is because it’s so valuable. In fact, it might surprise you how much your information is worth to complete strangers, especially across the dark web—a part of the internet that isn’t indexed by search engines like Google. In fact, some pieces of your information, like sensitive financial and medical records, may be worth thousands depending on how complete they are when they’re sold.
This is especially worrisome if you own a business that maintains customer databases. It’s one thing to have your information mishandled, but there’s no faster way to damage your reputation than accidentally losing control of your customers’ private information. That being said, this in no way means you should try to access the dark web to see if your information is compromised. The dark web is full of malware and one wrong move can toast your computer. Instead, rely on professionals to conduct a dark web search to make sure your data isn’t in the wrong hands.
Protecting your information
Luckily, even though there are many ways for criminals to illegally access your data, there are plenty of ways to counteract their attempts. Use a secure network, especially when handling customer data. Make sure your security software is regularly updated. Train your staff members on the importance of cybersecurity and the prevalence of information theft. Also, create a contingency plan to use in case you are a victim of information theft. If this sounds overwhelming, it might be best to rely on cybersecurity professionals to tailor a solution that fits your business’s information needs.
When it comes to your business, no safeguard is too strong. Being overly prepared is much better than not being prepared at all. If you’re taking the proper steps to ensure your information stays where it’s supposed to, then you’re looking out for the best interest of your company, your staff, and your customers.
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