Digital Hygiene 7 Practical Steps Everyone can Follow to Prevent Cyber-Crime

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Cybercriminals are more rampant than ever. In fact, 2020 showed losses of over $4.2 billion dollars to online crime, the most ever recorded.

With poor digital practices, you and your company could easily fall victim to one of these attacks. So-called "digital hygiene" is more important than ever. Fortunately, there are some simple steps to follow to protect your business from cyber-crime. Let's talk about them!

1. Prevent Cyber-Crime With Awareness

The way you start to make progress on practically anything is by promoting awareness.

However, it's great if you are aware of how rampant cyber-crime is and what it can do to your business, but if your colleagues and employees aren't on the same page, it's the same as if you had never known in the first place.

Anybody who has access to any passwords, accounts, pin numbers, company emails, or anything else with company information, needs to be equally responsible for your company's digital hygiene.

Educating and informing your staff on how prevalent cyber-crime is, the different methods criminals may use, and how to protect themselves is an excellent first step. Anything on this list that you'll start following, you should also have your staff follow. Clear standards are the best practice. Think of it as digital hygiene for the whole team!

2. Careful With Outsourcing

It's not just the staff and managers internal to your business, but any outside companies or contractors that handle your business. This can be your pay stub company, your accountants, your IT professionals, or anyone working alongside your business. Make sure they are using the same standards you would like to see within your company.

This is especially true if some of the information your business is keeping is protected by laws, like HIPAA laws or consumer protection laws. If your business is holding onto such protected information, you can be held liable if it is leaked to the wrong hands. Asking questions upfront about digital practices before trusting them with company data is important.

3. Secure Passwords

Everybody who has access to sensitive information within your company should be using secure passwords. Yes, go the extra mile and add a capitalized letter, number, and a special symbol. (Just preferably not the exclamation point!)

Secure passwords are great, but what's even better is changing your passwords more often. While most people don't meet this guideline, it is generally recommended that you change your passwords every 60-90 days. However, every 6 months or so is still better than never.

If you have your own website that employees use, you can even change the settings so employees are forced to change their passwords every given amount of time.

Recycling your passwords is a great start, but there's one problem that often flies under the radar. Old accounts of former staff and employees that are no longer active will still have the same passwords. To avoid any problems with this little blindspot, simply delete redundant accounts as often as possible.

4. Watch For Warning Signs

Make sure you and your staff are aware of "phishing" techniques. All the cybercriminals need is for you to click on a specific link or an image, and once you're there, they have you. 

Don't fall victim to this. Have staff double-check with people before opening suspicious links in emails, consider if the messages make sense, and never send payment without confirming either in-person or on the phone with the relevant parties. Certain URL changes can help curb this problem, too.

Scam calls and emails are extremely common, and we're so used to seeing them that we often think we're immune. However, it only takes one good one to throw you off, and that can have serious consequences. 

5. Damage Control

Having damage control procedures in place with a mutual understanding among staff is very important.

If something happens, like a company email getting hacked and sending out phishing lures to all of the contacts, do whatever you can to minimize the risk.

Contact each party the email was sent to immediately, preferably with a direct call or in-person interaction, and warn them not to open the link and to delete the email immediately.

6. Get The Right Help

Not only is it important that your IT company follows similar (or even more strict) procedures for cybersecurity, they can also help you with yours.

Having a couple of anti-virus programs is a good start, but new viruses and means of scamming are popping up every day, and it can be hard to stay up-to-date all the time.

The right IT company should be offering you the best software to prevent cybercrime, as well as expert advice on the best practices for your digital hygiene. Add this to your IT checklist!

7. Secure Your WiFi

The whole system in your office, all the moving parts, including your staff's emails, web browsers, and more, are connected by one thing. Your WiFi. This is your biggest weakness, so take it seriously.

Make sure your WiFi is secured, and that the passwords are tight and changed often. Any smartphones that are using the company's WiFi should also be secured, especially if they are using company emails and passwords. That's a note for your staff.

Protect Yourself Today!

Now that you know some simple steps to prevent your business from falling victim to the all-too-common cyber-crime, the best time to get started is today.

Just make sure your whole team is on board and that you have what you need for success! Also, check out the key benefits of outsourcing your company's IT services!

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