January 8, 2023 — Businesses of all sizes are common targets for cyber-attacks, and the damage can range from temporary inconvenience to financial devastation. Many small businesses have been forced to close within several months after a data breach cost them their private information and/or a lot of cash.
There are multiple types of attacks, including password hacking, phishing, malware and ransomware. Most businesses will be targeted at one time or another, and the large number of applications a typical business uses, combined with the large number of people now working from home, can make it difficult to batten down the data hatches. But it can be done!
There are simple guidelines that any enterprise can follow to make it difficult (if not impossible) for bad actors to break in, beginning with creating a password policy and then enforcing it. A policy, of course, is basically a set of rules. Here are some to consider:
- Require every password to have at least 12 characters that are a mix of numbers, capital and lower-case letters and symbols.
- Require passwords to be changed every few months. Don’t allow the use of previous passwords.
- Use password manager applications. There are many good options on the market. All allow your staff to store all those passwords in one place, online, and not on a sticky note on their desks.
- Regularly remind your employees that no one will ever request their password by phone, text, or email. That’s how phishing succeeds.
- Regularly remind your employees to avoid clicking on links in any text or email that’s from an email or number they don’t recognize. Remind them to look closely and twice: cyberthieves often use email addresses and phone numbers that resemble that of senior managers or close colleagues.
- Use dual authentication software. We’re all used to those. They require a second authentication measure beyond simply a password. That can be a challenging question the user must answer or a code that’s sent to the user’s mobile phone. Like password managers, there are multiple options available that are relatively inexpensive and highly effective.
- Speaking of the user’s mobile phone, your password policy also should spell out what devices are included, including any private phones, laptops and tablets they use to do company work.
Cybercriminals constantly change their tactics and they’re not going to stop trying. Simple password and dual authentication measures that are strictly followed and enforced can go a long way toward keeping these threats at bay.
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