March 1, 2017

    Computer Security Tips for Employees

    When it comes to cybersecurity for your organization, there are potential risks just about everywhere -- but there’s one that can be a real wildcard. We’re talking about your employees. In fact, anyone within your company could be opening up your business to dangerous, costly threats without even knowing it. And since one unexpected cyber attack has the power to bring your entire business to its knees, it’s essential to ensure that your data security policy includes effective strategies for mitigating the employee risk factor.

    Don’t jeopardize your organization’s most precious commodity: its data. Use the following computer security tips to both educate employees and fortify your files. With these efforts, you can make sure that your internal people don’t become your greatest security risk.

    Educate Everyone on the Effects of an Attack

    According to Small Business Trends, 43% of cyber attacks target small business, and 60% of small companies go out of business within six months of a cyber attack. So if your employees think the organization isn’t vulnerable to a complete shutdown due to data loss or theft, they need to be educated on this critical matter.

    No one is exempt. From the top levels of management to the intern team assisting with low-status tasks, absolutely every individual within your company must be fully apprised of the computer security risks inherent in today’s business landscape. The fact is anyone can be targeted, and no one is safe.

    Update Your Software Regularly

    If you’re consistently operating with outdated file sharing and storage software, there are bound to be many more opportunities for malicious intruders to attack an unsuspecting employee. Cybercriminal activity is constantly evolving. As security features become more advanced, so do the tactics of intruders to circumvent these security measures. That’s why updates are so important. The software you’re using must be equipped to thwart the data assaults being engineered today, not yesterday. So make sure that your software is always up to date with the latest patches and updates.  

    Run Repeated Backups of Your Files

    If all of the work your employees completed in just one day was compromised by a data breach, how much productivity would be lost? Multiply that by several days or, worse, months to years. Just one ransomware attack or other security threat could put all of your files and productivity at risk, which is why daily incremental backups are vital.

    Don’t make the mistake of considering your hosted file sharing data to be a “backup”. Having a single backup is no longer enough to protect your business from certain types of dangers. Expert file sharing providers like Sharetru write data in two different geographically diverse availability zones to create a true backup that will help protect against the unexpected.

    Stop Sending Large Files via Email

    When you use email to transfer mission-critical business files over an Internet connection, anyone with the right software and a little knowledge could intercept that file while it’s in transit, or gain access to the file when you least expect it. This is particularly dangerous when sending large files, as they take longer to transmit and give a hacker more time and opportunity to seize the data.

    Even without unauthorized interception, there are still four copies of every email attachment -- the outbox of the sender, the sending mail server, the receiving mail server and the inbox of the recipient. In short, don’t assume only the sender and the recipient have access to the attached file.

    Instead, your most secure option is to use secure FTP, which protects your files -- regardless of size -- in a wide range of advanced ways. Secure FTP providers like Sharetru employ both at-rest and in-transit encryption, making sure that your data is secure when it is stored on a the provider's hard drive and when it is in motion during the uploading or downloading process.

    Use Strong Passwords (and Update Them!)

    The most secure passwords are those that include long strings of unrelated numbers, letters and special characters. Unfortunately, these types of passwords are difficult to remember, which often leads employees to use less complicated passwords, reuse personal passwords or fail to update passwords on a regular basis. These are all serious computer security risks.

    Make sure you have a strong password policy in place for all employees -- one that requires passwords to be changed at least once every 90 days. The best way to accomplish this is to choose an FTP service that enables you to set password strength and expiration rules for your users, thereby enforcing your security policy automatically.

    Understand BYOD Risks

    The practice of BYOD reduces costs for businesses and eliminates the learning curve that can often stifle productivity, but it also poses significant risks to your organization’s file security. For instance, if an employee’s personal device (phone, tablet, laptop) is given unrestricted access to your file server and then that employee loses the device or has it stolen, any data stored on the server is susceptible to being accessed by whomever takes over the device.

    Also, what happens when an employee leaves your company? You cannot confiscate their personal mobile phone or device if they quit or get fired. Without some type of protocol in place, this individual would still be able to use their own device to access all of the information on your organization’s file server.

    To make BYOD a safer option for your business, it is necessary to implement a secure file sharing solution. This way, you can create permissions based on the specific device and regulate who has access to which files at what time. You can also quickly cut off permissions should the device ever become compromised or the employee leave your organization.

    Utilize a Trusted, Secure Partner

    Computer security dangers will continue to be a reality for organizations everywhere -- and they will continue to be compounded by the risks that employees present. Ultimately, you can’t afford to have sensitive information stolen, hacked or mishandled. The smartest tip we can offer, then, is to use a secure file sharing service.

    Secure FTP hosting for enterprise mitigates these employee-generated risks and makes data security the priority it needs to be, with features like in-transit and at-rest encryption, password enforcement, country and individual IP address restrictions, auditing and analytics tools, and effective backup solutions. This is the best way to ensure that your critical files and data are protected from the costly -- and often devastating -- effects of today’s security breaches.

    Martin Horan

    Martin, Sharetru's Founder, brings deep expertise in secure file transfer and IT, driving market niche success through quality IT services.

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