Scary thought: Is your company at risk of a cyber attack?

In today’s digital environment, it’s all too easy for a company to become the victim of a cyber attack if it doesn’t have the proper procedures in place. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), hackers can access sensitive business information more easily than ever before, which may result in high costs for employers to recover the data and may interrupt productivity. There are many cyber security risks employers may not be aware of, such as allowing workers to access the company’s network and business information through their personal devices. And not only can a cyber hack be expensive to fix for the company through software updates and data retrieval processes, but a recent survey by security software firm Webroot noted employers may be subject to regulatory fines as a result of a breach.

While many employers may not think hackers would be interested in accessing their companies’ digital infrastructures, Government Technology suggested businesses rethink their cyber risks. In an interview with an ex-hacker, Government Technology found it’s dangerously easy for an outsider to shut down a business’ network and steal data.

“The biggest problem I see is that [sites are] accessible to anyone with an Internet connection,” the ex-hacker told the site. “Most operating system source code is available on the Internet so that a professional hacker can sift through the original source code and find vulnerabilities and write code to execute them. To be quite honest, it’s so easy it’s scary.”

Employers may better protect their business’ and employees’ information by increasing the company’s level of security.

Tips for boosting cyber security
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), employers may prevent a cyber incident by preparing for one and educating employees about data security. The SBA created a list of tips employers may utilize to help mitigate their risks of a data breach, which include:

  • Create official policies regarding personally identifiable information, such as if employees check their bank accounts while using a company computer or while using the business’ Internet connection through their smartphones and tablets
  • Assess the organization’s cyber security risk if the business is connected to a larger company’s website, which may be attractive to hackers
  • Update software regularly
  • Back up information and data essential to the business’ operations
  • Establish computer access and network controls
  • Hide the Wi-Fi network from unauthorized persons, such as by configuring the router to not show the network name, which is known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID)
  • Invest in antispyware and antivirus software

In addition, employers may want to advise workers to create secure passwords that won’t be easily guessed, such as with numbers and symbols as well as upper and lower case letters, and to change the passwords every few months. Employers also may develop a company policy on social media use and what types of company information workers can access through their personal devices.

According to the DHS, fast response to cyber vulnerabilities by employing an IT team may aid employers in reducing their data breach risks and keeping employee information safe. Staying vigilant may help employers combat cyber threats.

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