Modern day workspaces are no longer what they used to be-with the digital revolution bringing about sweeping changes, the way we work has changed dramatically. Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, smart sensors, closed circuit cameras-they have all made offices smarter and more efficient. As a result, data security has assumed significance and protecting computer systems and access to information has become vital to the success of businesses.
However, what many don’t realize is that a few simple tips and practices on our part can ensure the safety of data, prevent hackers from stealing sensitive information, and thereby compromise the interests of the larger organization. One vulnerable account is enough for cyber attackers to crack passwords, hack accounts and gain access to entire computer networks.
Some of the common threats include malware, phishing, social networking scams, cyber stalking and harassment, to mention a few. Cyber security experts opine that with the growth of technology, attacks have also become sophisticated, and good digital hygiene is essential on a daily basis, to safeguard sensitive accounts. People are the first point of cyber security and one cannot assume that one’s Internet Service Provider or the IT department at work will automatically take care of data security for you.
The first step to staying safe online is to thoroughly comprehend the difference between privacy and security. These two terms are related, but cyber privacy, in particular, refers to the rights you have to control your personal information and how it is used. An example of this would be the privacy policies you are asked to read and agree when you download apps, or the different settings and options you are allowed to preset when you access social media apps such as Facebook or Instagram. Security, on the other hand, refers to the many different ways your personal information is protected. However, since your data travels through a lot of channels and spaces, both your privacy and your security can be challenged and it is important to identify and set the right controls and security measures.
The next major step is to assume responsibility for your passwords. Many people think that once a password is assigned to their email or social media account, their data is safe for life. But that’s far from the case. Not only is it important to regularly change and upgrade your password, but also make it an unbeatable combination that hackers would find difficult to crack. If you think ‘ZombieXYZ’ is a strong password, or if ‘Computer782’ is strong enough to keep away the modern hacker, think again!
Another easy way to secure passwords on accounts like Gmail is to turn on two-step verification. This basically means linking your phone with your account, so that when you log in from a new and unfamiliar location, Google text messages a six-digit verification code to your phone that you have to enter along with your password, to unlock the account. This important step basically means that even if your password fell into the wrong hands, cyber criminals would be thwarted without access to your phone.
Password managers are also crucial for security, in that they help you set really, really tough passwords for different websites, and remember them using a mastercode.
According to the MacAfee blog10 Tips To Stay Safe Online, another way to stay secure is to check if your online accounts offer multifactor authentication, which basically means that multiple pieces of information are required to verify your identity.
Boosting your network security is another key step-this means using password protected routers to encrypt data or using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to protect sensitive information when using free, public Wi-Fi. Then again, even if your network is secure, you must use a firewall to block unauthorized access to computers and networks, and ensure that all of your devices connected to the network are safe and hacker-proof.
Privilege Access Management (PAM) is another area that is often overlooked, but assumes great importance. The management and governance of privileges surrounding data access is critical to cybersecurity these days, and has become a top trend in this area, according to experts. The main challenge to proper access management is that lack of open communication between the various departments in an organization and lack of awareness about the need for open lines and cooperation between the IT department and other layers in an organization. Very often, someone might spot a crucial error or vulnerability in a network, but rectifying that requires so many approvals and signatures, that they often get sidelined or buried in what is seen as “more important” work.
One could on and on about the different ways of ensuring safety in the cyber world, but if these important steps are adhered to, there can be a significant difference in the safety and security of data in an organization, as well as greater productivity in business outcomes.