8 online security habits you need to adopt ASAP

Every day it seems like our lives are increasingly catalogued online.

Our phones and computers hold almost everything we do throughout our day, both at work and at home. With such a wealth of personal and professional information at our (and at hackers’) fingertips, it’s important to keep ourselves and our employees aware of online security practices. There are a number of simple ways that you can make sure your data remains safe, but you would be surprised how many of them are ignored.

1. Hire professionals

The easiest way to ensure your online security is up to date is to consult with and hire professionals. As a small or medium sized business, you may not have an in house IT manager, but that doesn’t have to mean you’re on your own. There are a number of options from cyber security consultants to managed IT services that have the expertise to keep your data safe.

2. Stop using easy passwords

One of the most overlooked online security habits is simply creating stronger passwords. “123456” is still the most common password and still the most breached. According to security experts, passwords should never be sequential numbers or words with a dictionary entry. There is a reason many sites prompt you to include numbers and symbols in your passwords as they are more difficult to breach. Passwords should always be lengthy and complicated.

3. Be on guard against phishing

This is another habit that security experts are tired of reminding us about. We still fall for those fake emails and click on the baited links, directly handing our passwords and credit card information to hackers. There are a couple of easy signs to look out for. One is to check that the email address matches the display name. Another sign is urgent language in the subject heading which leads you to panic and quickly enter in your account information. If you’re unsure, it never hurts to call the company (from their website information NOT the information provided in the email) and check.

4. Don’t forget about your phone

Your phone is an online security risk just as much, if not more, than your computer. Some simple precautions such as not accessing secure information on public wifi networks, password protection, not downloading apps from third party sources, and keeping your software and apps updated can all help keep your device secure.

5. Use a password manager

If you’re worried about remembering all those lengthy and complicated passwords you’ll be creating, then use a password manager. Password managers basically take care of password security for you by helping you create strong passwords, easily detect and change unsecure passwords, and manage all of your passwords across your devices.

6. Start using multifactor authentication

Multifactor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your login process and therefore makes it difficult for you to be hacked. Two factor authentication combines something you know (your password) with something you have (such as an sms sent to your mobile phone). Multifactor identification then adds a third factor which is something you are (such as a fingerprint). This makes it very difficult for someone to hack your accounts, because they would have to deal with all three of these identification points.

7. Keep software up to date

Whether it’s a Microsoft Office update, an iOS update or an app update, most people tend to click “Remind me later” rather than run an update while they’re using their device. However, these pesky update reminders are actually meant to help keep your data safe by fixing potential security holes. Companies actually have employees whose job is to try to hack into their software so that they can fix those weak spots. Those fixes are what you get in updates, along with cool new emojis.

8. Educate yourself and your employees

Making yourself aware of online security risks and practices is the starting point for keeping your data safe. Everyone needs to know the proper steps to take to minimize risks. When you don’t address security concerns, not only do you put yourself at risk but you also but your business at risk both economically and legally.

Technology makes our lives easier, but it also opens us up to theft in ways we may not be able to see coming. People don’t have to break into your home or office to take steal your most valuable assets anymore; they can do it from the comfort of their own couch. However, much like you lock your front door or install surveillance cameras at your office, there are simple precautions you can take to protect yourself.