Having a home business comes with a unique set of benefits and challenges. One of those challenges is the continuing threat of cybercrime. Small to mid-size companies, in particular, are at a high level of risk. Keeping your home office safe is easier than you may think. Here are seven easy ways to keep your operations secure.
- Learn the Terminology
The first step in security is learning the bewildering array of terms and concepts associated with computer security. You don't have to be an expert, only conversant. Understand what a "phishing" scam is and how to avoid it. Know the names of common intrusion tactics like the infamous SQL injection. You need not be an expert in high-tech solutions like Prometheus metrics to understand the value of monitoring data. Criminals expect you to be ignorant. Your knowledge takes away their most significant advantage.
- Secure Your Wi-Fi Connection
One common hacker tactic is called "wardriving." Wardriving means searching out unsecured Wi-Fi connections by driving around neighborhoods to hunt for an unsecured router. The best countermeasure is a good password. Password-protect your router and ensure the password is something hard to guess. Change it from the default to something unique. Try updating your firmware as often as possible to patch up security holes.
- Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi
On the subject of Wi-Fi, remember that public Wi-Fi networks are all too frequently unprotected. If you're working from a laptop at a coffee shop, ask a manager about their password policies. If it's unsecured, anyone in the same room with a computer could monitor your activities. Just to be extra careful, wait until you're home to communicate important personal or financial information.
- Store Vital Data Offline
That critical data also needs to be stored securely. Most people back up their data on the cloud, and that is a good practice, but it might not go far enough. Consider saving your most crucial information offline on a flash drive or other portable data storage device. These often come with additional security options like encryption and biometric locking. Don't forget: Unlike cloud storage, you can place offline files in a safe. Physical security is vital to cybersecurity.
- Encrypt All Files
In addition to flash drives, many devices have operating systems with built-in encryption options. For example, Windows 10 has the BitLocker encryption option. Every Apple iOS since iOS 8 already has encryption. Encrypted portable hard drives are another option. You can also encrypt data as it's transmitted. Activating a virtual private network (VPN) option on your browser can keep third parties from spying on your transactions and everyday internet surfing.
- Optimize Password Protocols
If you're running a business from home, you probably log into multiple websites daily. Resist the urge to use the same password on each of those pages. If one gets compromised, they're all likely to be compromised. In addition, passwords should be designed according to science. Using a random mishmash of numbers, letters, and symbols makes a password exponentially tougher to crack than if you'd used a simple word. Never make the error of having a password that references something personal. Treat your password the way you would the key to your house.
- Upgrade Your Digital Countermeasures
It's hard to overstate the importance of antivirus software. It's your first line of defense against cybercriminals and the viruses (and other tools) they let loose on your systems. Businesses often have to deal with mass quantities of emails, especially during digital marketing campaigns. Think about installing a firewall system as an add-on to your antivirus protection. Firewalls screen emails, looking for the telltale signs of malicious software attached to the mail. Having a business raises the stakes of a data breach, so layering your defense is a worthwhile strategy.
The threat of hacking may loom large, but that doesn't mean attacks are inevitable. An awareness of the dangers and how to thwart them are the keys to better security. Use these tips as a springboard for creating and improving your home cybersecurity plan.
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