Are You Doing the Simple Things: The Top 5 Habits to Protect Your Information
I often tell people we are in the new normal. The way we think about information and privacy is not the same as we thought about it even ten years ago. If we are using email, various websites or consistently saving files, getting into the routine of changing our passwords, updating our antivirus and becoming familiar with using cloud software is becoming more of an imperative. Below are the top five things people are not doing to protect their information. Some of it may seem very simple, but I continue to run into people that are not practicing these habits on a consistent basis. My guess is you know someone who isn’t as well.
1. Changing passwords every 4-6 weeks: This may seem rudimentary, but ask yourself when was the last time you updated your email, LinkedIn, Facebook, or banking passwords? Nowadays, there is a passcode for everything and I know it seems almost labor intensive to go through and update every single one. Mainly email accounts and website passwords (if you have a website) should be updated most frequently. Then continue with the websites you use most frequently and rotate that password every three to five months. TIPP: There are different apps that can add additional layer of security. Look at PassKey or Keeper for your phone or tablet. Passkey uses fingerprint technology for login on frequently used sites.
2. Updating the antivirus software when it expires: We get the 30 day reminder, then the 29 day reminder, then the 28 day reminder….It’s worth it to update your antivirus software when it expires. Remember why you paid for it the first time. Think about it as oil for your computer, similar to how oil is needed for a car. It’s a necessary tool to help make sure your computer is running well consistently.
3. For entrepreneurs, or solopreneurs – invest in secure email exchanges: There are many ways for a small teams to invest in a secure email exchange at a low cost. It’s easy to not invest and to use your personal emails until someone’s email is compromised. If you are growing the size of your team, the one thing you will want to do for all aspects of your business is set the right culture from the beginning. In many cases, this will mean the onboarding process and having the right training. As part of that training, set expectations for data privacy of company and client information, and how emails should be used. Establishing the right culture early on will help tremendously in creating a preventative culture on data security.
4. Using the cloud: I know there are a lot of people still very resistant to the cloud. If you have an external hard drive that’s great, but odds are you do not have it with you all the time. Then, of course, to have access to the cloud you need internet access. There are pros and cons to having the cloud or not having the cloud, and as I talk to people I find they are still hesitant to use it. However, generally, it is safer than email and can be safer than an external hard drive. You will want to know what layers of security are in place to protect your cloud, but that is something you would want to know for your email and computer as well. Google, Apple, and Microsoft are all reasonable places to start when thinking of using the cloud.
5. Do not respond quickly when email is hacked: You know its happening. Your friends contact you because they received an email from you stating you were in an overseas location, in danger, and needed $5000 immediately. How about when your computer is starting to run slow, are you are still hesitant to act? Don’t be! You could be seriously affecting your computer files, email, cloud, or external hard drive. Respond quickly to warning signs and if you think your email is compromised. Immediately change the password and if you think your computer was compromised with malware, run an anti-virus scan. That’s right, this would be the time you will be happy you renewed your anti-virus plan.
It’s all about prevention! These are the routine habits you can do at home or work to have a safe and empowered workplace and to lead a consciously secure life at home.
Jessica Robinson is Founder & CEO of PurePoint International, a firm disrupting the security market by providing affordable outsourced Chief Security Officer (CSO) consulting services for startups, international non-profits, and mid-size commercial businesses. She completes training and assessments for businesses in physical and cyber security and risk mitigation/business continuity. We help you create a safe and empowered workplace.
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