With cyberthreats on the rise, businesses face a growing range of online risks that can disrupt operations, compromise sensitive data, and lead to long-term reputational damage. Managers and employees alike must therefore exercise caution, as what may seem like harmless actions can have severe — and even permanent — consequences.
In this guide, we break down a checklist of common online habits that can put your business in harm’s way.
Opening suspicious links or emails
Phishing has become an increasingly prevalent form of cyberattack, with over 500 million phishing emails reported in 2022. This tactic involves cybercriminals posing as legitimate entities — often through spoofed or hacked email accounts — to lure unsuspecting recipients into divulging confidential information. Phishing emails may also include malicious attachments that contain malware that, when opened, can compromise the user’s systems and data. Equally threatening are deceptive links leading to counterfeit login pages that are designed to trick users into revealing their login credentials.
You and your employees must thus stay wary of any emails requesting sensitive data or wire transfers, taking extra steps to verify who the sender is through other secure means. Vague, poorly written messages that claim to be from legitimate sources should also raise red flags, and any links or attachments within them are best avoided.
Visiting unprotected websites
Unprotected websites can serve as breeding grounds for cyberthreats, such as drive-by downloads that automatically install themselves onto your computer without your permission. These applications may host viruses, spyware, or even ransomware that exploit the vulnerabilities in your business network without your or your employees’ knowledge.
To protect yourself, prioritize sites with up-to-date security certificates, indicated by URLs beginning with HTTPS. Additionally, look for a padlock icon in the address bar. Trustworthy, professional websites also exhibit polished content, error-free text, appropriate images, and organic ads that don’t overwhelm users.
Bad password hygiene
Password hygiene refers to the practice of maintaining strong, secure passwords to protect one’s online accounts and information. This involves creating complex passwords, using unique passwords for different accounts, and regularly updating them to minimize the risk of unauthorized access.
When creating complex passwords, use a lengthy code and avoid predictable sequences like “1234” or personal details, such as birthdays and pet names. Alternatively, you can use a password manager to generate different passwords across your accounts. It stores these passwords in a single application, relieving the burden of remembering them yourself.
Lacking a robust security plan
With cybercrime costing businesses an average of $4.5 million in 2022, the need for a comprehensive security plan has never been greater. Lacking the measures to detect, prevent, and respond to cyberattacks effectively can only lead to lasting financial and reputational business damage.
To build a robust security plan, it’s important to have multifaceted defenses rather than relying on a single strategy or software. Implement various tools, such as virtual private networks, firewalls, antivirus applications, and multifactor authentication. You should also keep your systems and software up to date to maintain optimal performance and security.
Additionally, you should take the time to understand and configure the privacy settings on your web browsers and business devices. Otherwise, cybercriminals may exploit these settings to monitor your online activity and gather sensitive data in the process.
Not having proper backup and recovery procedures
Insufficient backup procedures can spell disaster for your business, leaving you at risk of permanent data loss from cyberattacks, hardware failures, natural disasters, or accidental deletions. This, in turn, can disrupt operations and compromise consumer trust.
On the other hand, having a well-executed data backup and disaster recovery plan can lead to greater business resilience. This involves having regular and automated backups of critical data, systems, and configurations that are safeguarded in secure off-site locations. You should also establish clear protocols in the event of a data loss or system failure, detailing which employees are responsible for what tasks and how communication will be managed in the recovery process.
Not thinking twice before posting
Content posted on the internet has a remarkable staying power, often remaining accessible long after it's shared. For businesses, this reality underscores the importance of thoughtful posting practices. Companies must think twice before sharing any content that could potentially tarnish their reputation, alienate customers, or even lead to legal repercussions.
This same practice should extend to individual employees, who often represent the public face of a company. It’s wise for them to avoid posting anything they wouldn’t want the public or prospective employers to see. Additionally, keeping their work email exclusive to company-related communications can help shield their email addresses from potential spam, phishing risks, or information leakage.
By keeping these tips in mind, you can protect your business from the growing realm of cyberthreats. For personalized guidance and expert solutions tailored to your organization's needs, connect with Kortek Solutions today.