Basic tips to avoid cybercrime

With people using the Internet for banking, shopping, socializing and everything in between, the risk of falling victim to a cybercrime scheme has never been more real. In fact, a CNNMoney report found that 110 million American adults were hacked in 2014 alone. Considering this number is 47 percent of the U.S. adult population, it’s obvious that online security is just as much of a concern for people as physical security.

And while these numbers are frightening in their own right, an even scarier thought is how drastically unprepared some businesses are for cyberattacks. A McAfee report found that about 90 percent of small-to-medium-sized businesses don’t use data protection of any kind for themselves or their clients.

Statistics like this make dealing with smaller businesses seem risky, and as such every small business should make cybersecurity a top priority. To this end, this list of very basic online practices has been compiled in order to make navigating the Internet safer.

Don’t click on something unless you are 100 percent sure what it is: This may seem very basic, however, many people don’t fully understand how risky it is to click a link they aren’t absolutely sure about. Frank Heidt, CEO of Leviathan Security Group, gave a TED talk about this very topic. In the speech, he stated that the easiest way to hack someone in a particular company is through their loved ones.

A CEO’s computer will have very specific security protocols, but his child’s computer probably won’t. All a hacker has to do is gain access to the child’s computer and then send the CEO a message using the child’s email address. This email, which will look identical to any other sent by the child, will contain a piece of malware in the form of a seemingly harmless clickable link. Once clicked, this virus will run through the CEO’s computer and will eventually require malware removal across the entire company’s network. The takeaway from this is that no part of your online experience is 100 percent safe, and any and all links should remain suspect.

Update your software: With the fast-paced nature of modern technologies, keeping software up-to-date can be extremely hard for some smaller companies. And even though your business might be getting along just fine with Windows XP, for example, you’re actually putting yourself in danger.

On April 8, 2014, Windows announced that it would no longer be putting out updates for Windows XP. This means that any security holes in the software that need patching will not be fixed, and that hackers will be free to exploit them. Having up-to-date software not only gives clients a better experience with the company, but it also makes sure their data is better protected.

Keep passwords complex: Although most people know to keep passwords hard to crack, few know how truly important it is to keep passwords complex. A Bloomberg study about password complexity showed how making a few tiny changes could drastically change a hacker’s ability to access your computer. The article stated that a six-word, all lowercase password takes a hacker’s computer about 10 minutes to crack on average. However, if you were to add an uppercase letter and a number/symbol to that password, the time to crack it jumps to 463 years.

Contact a company that deals in cybersecurity: If you had to pick only one of these tips to follow, this one would definitely be the one to choose. Companies like ISG Technology stay current with their cybersecurity knowledge, and can help with everything from malware removal to safe data storage. They can also help assess the security of your company’s network, ensuring that both company and client information stay out of the hands of hackers.