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How to Reduce Vulnerability to Cyber Attacks?

No business is safe from the reach of cybercriminals. If anything, small businesses are an easier target for them. Many small business owners leave their companies vulnerable to cyber-attack without even realizing it. If you are one of them, these incidents can be extremely damaging to your business reputation, not to mention your bottom line. Here are some great tips on how to reduce vulnerability to cyber attacks. 

  • Use Container Security

Container security has become the new trend in cybersecurity, quickly outpacing virtual machines as the tool of choice. To understand what a container is – and the best container security best practices – it’s essential first to understand virtual machines. 

A virtual machine is a form of emulating an operating system on a computer. Virtual machines can be run within another operating system, or they can be run directly off the hardware. Either way, though, virtual machines are all run together and allocated separate space and resources by the hypervisor—the individual virtual machines in a network act as individual computers. 

Containers, on the other hand, are self-contained execution environments with isolated network resources. The main difference between containers and virtual machines is that containers don’t emulate the operating system as a virtual machine does. Containers create independent user spaces with individual bins and libs instead. The containers all share the same host operating system kernel rather than running their own. 

Thanks to this configuration, containers don’t need to be assigned RAM, and other resources like a virtual machine does. A container simply uses the resources it needs while operating. To keep things simple, a virtual machine virtualizes hardware while a  container virtualizes the operating system. 

Containers are much more lightweight than virtual machines. You can create one in seconds and have up to eight of them running on a single machine. You can also easily migrate containers to other computers. 

  • Have Remote Workers Use VPNs

If you have remote workers or your regular employees sometimes log in outside of work, make sure that they use a VPN (virtual private network) when they do so. Public Wi-Fi is convenient, but that convenience comes at the cost of security. 

Many contractors and remote employees sometimes work from libraries or coffee shops so that they can use the public Wi-Fi there. However, these networks are not secure at all and put company data at risk. Using a VPN connection encrypts data and makes an unsecured network secure. 

Cybercriminals are less likely to be able to access data sent across a VPN connection. 

  • Require Strong Passwords

A strong password is the first line of defense against cybersecurity threats. Make sure your employees choose strong passwords or choose their passwords for them. A strong password should be between eight and twelve characters long, include numbers and letters, and shouldn’t be centered around common words like “admin” or “password. Another good tip is to avoid using passwords that involve the username in some way or another. 

It can be a challenge to keep up with all these complex, unique passwords. A password manager can help with that. Password managers create and store randomized passwords, so you never use the same password twice. They are a great way to get secure and unique passwords for each account so that even if one account is compromised, the others remain perfectly safe. 

  • Practice Caution Before Clicking

Data breaches are generally the work of phishing emails and social engineering attacks. Phishing files are viruses disguised as banking apps, shopping apps, and essential documents. These files actually steal login credentials and credit card information from victims—practice caution before downloading files from the internet

Have employees double-check that they are connected to the right website when they enter passwords. It’s a common tactic among hackers to create fake landing pages that look just like the real thing. If someone enters their information into one of these counterfeit pages, then the hacker gets access to it. Some of these attacks are quite clever, so make sure that you are on the right page. Consider entering the address manually just to be safe. 

On a similar note, employees should be able to recognize spam emails and understand the dangers of opening links from unfamiliar and unsafe sources. Check emails for spam addresses and consider blacklisting certain websites to prevent emails from those sites, even reaching your inbox. 

  • Discuss the Dangers of Oversharing

It’s great when employees talk to each other, and there’s nothing wrong with them having social media accounts. The problem is if they take to sharing too much information on those social media accounts. Even information that seems innocuous can be used against them. 

If someone was to make their password the name of their first pet, for example, someone could check their social media and find out that information. A little mindfulness can go a long way when it comes to staying safe on social media. 

  • Put Limits in Place

Not every employee should have access to all of the same data. You should keep track of who has access to what. Which employees can access email accounts, websites, and databases? HR should look through the profiles of employees to determine what their job description is, what data they have access to, and what information they should have access to. 

Make sure that your systems are secure and that employees aren’t able to access the information they don’t need to. Don’t let employees have access to financial information unless they need it, for example. Even if they can’t use that information themselves, there is the risk they could pass it on to someone else who can. 

  • Track Devices

HR should have access to a log of every device employees have. They should be able to map each device to the individual owner. There should also be someone in management with the power to log in and disconnect devices they feel are being misused to protect data better. 

  • Limit How Much Employees Use Work Devices for Personal Use

Work devices like computers and phones should be used for work purposes. Employees shouldn’t use the device to store personal photos and passwords. This kind of information could be obtained by other people – including their employer – if the device goes missing. 

  • Encourage Quick Reporting of Incidents

Employees should be encouraged to report mistakes and incidents as quickly as possible. Thank employees when they admit to having made a mistake, like opening an attachment or clicking a link they shouldn’t have. 

The more warning IT gets, the better. Don’t punish employees for making mistakes, or they will always hesitate to come forward. Create an environment where employees feel comfortable admitting to their mistakes for the benefit of the organization as a whole. 

There are plenty of programs and resources out there to assist with cybersecurity and creating a secure environment.

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