Unless you live with the indigenous Bushmen tribes of South Africa or you took A Journey to the Center of the Earth with Jules Verne, you should be acutely aware that our whole world is digitally connected from one side to the other. In fact, if you are reading this, chances are it's happening on the net. Welcome to the Digital Age, as if you weren't already here.
This worldwide connection brings with it a vast amount of potential. Countless products and forms of entertainment can be located, obtained, and consumed. More information than the brain is probably capable of digesting can also be accessed at the push of a button. Whole businesses exist and thrive, digitally, and even entire economies (think Second Life). Limitless communication capabilities are available on a global scale. The Digital Age gives us abilities that would appear super-human to our cave-dwelling predecessors.
As is the case with everything, however, all that potential includes a dark side. Literally, there is a "dark web", overlaid and parallel along the internet like a digital "upside down" in a Stranger Things episode. It exists on an encrypted network that regular browsers cannot access and hides identities of users with a Tor encryption tool. On this dark internet, everything from drugs to counterfeit money are sold, as well as information -- your information and/or that of your company.
Even the regular web (the light web) we all know and use has less-than-scrupulous participation on it. Hackers are a well-known phenomenon that not only break into your personal computer, but can even gain access to your smart car or phone if they are skilled enough. And, they don't stop there. Companies, banks, and even governments are all targets. Once inside the systems that run and connect these organizations, a hacker can obtain control over accounts, response systems, and trade secrets, just for starters. Bottom line…your bottom line might take a hit because a cyber criminal gained access to a secure location. All of that data I mentioned earlier, stolen and sold on the dark web, has to be obtained from the regular internet, first.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Just like in the real world, the digital world needs security to deal with bad actors and threats. Someone needs to safeguard your systems, data, and networks. Just one click on a malicious link in an email or visit to a fake website provided to you can enable access that leads to financial loss and downtime, release of sensitive data, and damage to your organization's reputation. The good news is, there are ways security can be amplified.
Updates - Most of us get frustrated when there is another update that must be done to our operating systems, but it's for good reason. The more of them there are, the harder it is for cyber criminals to figure out access. Once they get close, the update changes everything and they have to start over. This means users have to pay attention and act on all of the notifications for updates on antivirus software, firewalls, and web browsers. Without these constant and routine updates, a personal or company's defensive wall begins to show signs of cracks that criminals will exploit.
Password Protection - Passwords have been getting very lengthy, these days. It's calculated that the complicated the password is, the harder it makes for a criminal to hack. Unfortunately, this has the downside of making it really complicated for users of your company to remember them, especially if you are applying the "constant update" principle to passwords too (as you should). 16 character passwords filled with symbols, upper-case and lower-case letters, and numbers consumes a user's time in trying to create them, and even more time trying to recall. This creates frustration in your workforce and at home.
Instead, try this methodology. Make your password policy a "phrase" that the user is familiar with. Some examples would be "thisiscybersecurity" or "ilikethisarticle" or "starsareprettytome." These phrases will be hard for a hacker to get through because the possible combinations of what a person could generate as a phrase are nearly endless, especially if frequently changed. Simultaneously, you will greatly reduce frustration experienced by users because phrases are easy to remember, especially when related to a user's life, and they are fast to create.
White Hat Hacker - Hiring this type of security professional could be invaluable to your IT department or even for your own personal use. This individual is just like any other hacker who likes to find holes in systems and gain access. Only, once he or she breaks in, they don't actually steal anything. Instead, they let you know how they did it. Thus, you become aware of where the weak spots are in your network's defenses and can remedy them before something bad happens for real.
Employee Training - Associates working for you need training. You can't assume that everyone knows all the ins-and-outs of how to conduct work safely in the digital world. And, the training should be routine and contain the latest information available. This might seem like a time-burglar to productivity, but in the long-run it will save time and money in the avoidance of stolen information and corrupted systems that devastate you and/or your business.
Clean House - When applications, logins, and user credentials are no longer in use and remain dormant on your system, this is like a welcome mat for a cyber-criminal. Being dormant means little effort is expended to ensure such applications are updated and protected. This could be the way a criminal gains access. Get rid of the stuff not in use. Clean house and make sure everything that stands in the way of digital thieves and your system's integrity is polished and shiny -- in use and updated, and better defended.
The digital world doesn't show signs of going away on its own anytime soon. Cyber security is a real necessity and it's better to take protective measures now than tomorrow, or there might not be a tomorrow for your cyber assets or those of your company.
Article Source: Business Training Media
Business Training Media is a global provider of workplace safety and OSHA compliance training courses for employees, managers, supervisors and students.