Many different companies nowadays depend on computers and the Internet for communication, content, and marketing purposes. There are so many different ways this technology can be utilized for business; consequently, it’s no surprise most people use the Internet at work every day. However, with so many connected to company intranets, this leaves plenty of room for data to become vulnerable. Employees should be on the front lines when it comes to cybersecurity, but not all employees know and partake in best practices for keeping their information safe online. Here are a few tips on how your business can practice optimal online safety and keep your information safe this National Data Privacy Day (January 28th).

Create Policies for How To Handle Sensitive Data

Most employees often have a hard time knowing the difference between classified information and information that is free to share. This is usually because there isn’t anyone to explain what the difference is. Due to this, employees are left guessing and often times are more relaxed with the information or documentation they hand out to others than they should be. By creating policies and classifying data accordingly, employees will know the difference between what information is sharable and what information should be kept private.

Policies on cyber safety is something that all companies should have. They help mitigate confusion because all employees will be held to the same standard set by the company. Also, these policies should include who has access to data, who to share certain data with, and how to avoid online scams. Along with this tip, businesses should consider bringing in outside professionals who can teach the entire staff the best protocols.

If you don’t know where to start with writing a data security company policy, here’s a template to follow.

Private sign for data protection

Stay Away from Phishing Emails

The number one thing cybercriminals are looking for is your data. They want to cultivate that data for many different purposes including identity theft or access to your financial records, for example. In order to get this information, hackers employ several different tactics in order to trick Internet users into handing out personal data. Phishing scams are just one of the tactics cybercriminals use to trick users into giving out their information to what they think are reputable sources. Phishing tactics usually come in the form of an email sent by a cybercriminals that look like they’re sent from a friend, a co-worker, or a company. However, they are actually from cybercriminals who made the email seem like it was coming from a reputable source.

A company could send you an email saying that your account has been hacked into. The email explains that in order to change your password and get your account back to normal, you first need to give your name, password, and other personal information. They could also provide you with a link to click on to unsubscribe or to authorize them to fix the problem for you.

However, that email may not actually be from the company at all, but instead from a criminal who wants you to click their malicious links. These links can then download harmful malware to your device. Here are a few ways you can catch whether these emails are from real companies or from “phishy” criminals:

Employees can come across these more often than not due to company data breaches where email addresses might have been leaked. As long as the email is detected, deleted, marked as spam, and reported, there should be no issues.

Equip Devices with The Proper Software

When it comes to software on your company devices, it’s always best to use the top of the line, most up-to-date programs. The first rule of thumb is to update the software on your devices regularly. We’ve all been there and let a software update notification wait for a few weeks or even months before we actually take the time to update the device’s system. But this is a terrible practice when it comes to keeping your information secure. You should always update your device’s software as soon as the update is released. Not only will it help your device run more efficiently, it will update any holes in the OS that could allow for a criminal to hack into your computer.

Another software that’s important for companies to keep up with is the cloud. Many companies stick to using on-premise software to save their information to a device or harddrive, but cloud software is, in most cases, the better option. While the cloud has many great features, like allowing company-wide access information from any device, they also provide a safe alternative to holding important information. There have often been disputes about what the safer option is between the cloud and hard drives. Companies who specialize in cloud software, such as Oracle, argue that cloud ERP software is the safest option. They claim that since cloud systems update automatically, they will always provide the safest, most recent security protocol to protect from cybercriminals.

Every company should implement some form of cybersecurity software on each of their devices. While antivirus, anti-malware, and cybersecurity software suites are all great options, companies may also want to consider other software to implement like virtual private networks (VPNs). A VPN is a cybersecurity software downloaded to a device that helps make it invisible to cybercriminals. With many workplaces becoming more flexible with location, remote employees working on company devices outside the office is becoming way more commonplace. This means that they will most likely connect to public Wi-Fi networks to work from these remote places.

Unfortunately, public Wi-Fi networks are flooded with cybercriminals looking to access insecure devices on the same network. Say someone signs into a coffee shop Wi-Fi network, there is a high likelihood of a cybercriminal logged on to the same connection. In addition, anyone can see who else is on the network. With this in mind, they can scan the connected devices, hack into the insecure ones, and access the user’s data. To combat this, a VPN actually masks the IP address of the connected device, which means that even though it may be connected to the Wi-Fi network, no one can see that the device is connected. That way, the potential cybercriminals on the system can’t see your device and won’t even know to target you.

These are only a few ways that companies and employees can stay safe online. Business owners should always make sure they inform their employees on cybersecurity best practices and create written policies so everyone is held to the same standard. By staying away from cybercriminal tactics, implementing proper software, and sharing standardized policies, you will be sure to keep your company safe from a data breach in the future.