Data

Hackers and criminals employ multiple tactics to break into computers and steal personal information. From phishing scams and viruses to social engineering and password theft, the everyday business computer receives daily attacks on multiple fronts.

Large companies report that the biggest financial threat these days comes from cyber attacks, rather than physical robberies. Thankfully, there are a number of defenses available against identity theft and hackers. Businesses can take steps to ensure their computers and private information such as employer identities, bank account passwords, and credit card numbers remain secure. The following are five of them:

1) Install Reliable Firewall and Anti-Virus Software

A firewall controls and filters business network traffic. It essentially places a secure boundary around an office computer to ensure outside networks can’t attempt to run or access programs, unless first listed or approved as safe by a network administrator. Also, anti-virus software blocks any malware installation attempts.

Malicious software that has already infected a local computer will be detected and removed. The forms of infection anti-virus software guards against include trojans, adware, rootkits, spyware and more. More often than not, anti-virus software is sold separately or bundled with identity theft protection software.

As malicious code becomes more sophisticated, computer security must advance in order to protect against it. Updating firewall and anti-virus software is essential to stopping new malware and cyber attack attempts in their tracks.

2) Set Up User Accounts and Create Complex Passwords

A user account ensures only an authorized administrator—usually the owner of a business computer or network—has access to files and programs. A login and password prevents anyone unwanted from accessing the computer, be it physically or remotely.

Complex passwords for user, bank, and email accounts decrease the likelihood of a hacker figuring it out and gaining access. Strong password protection is becoming mandatory as tech giants like Microsoft ban weak password combinations that can be easily cracked by cyber thieves.

3) Set Up Multi-Factor Authentication

Sometimes, a complicated password isn’t enough to secure a business account, though. Adding another step to the login process to prove a user’s identity bolsters the computer with another layer of security.

Authentication, combined with a username and password, can be confirmed by PIN, TAN, a code sent to the user’s phone or email, a USB stick, a card, fingerprints, voice recognition and believe it or not, even eye scanning.

4) Avoid Sites With Questionable Marketing Methods

Avoid and blacklist sites containing invasive ads and adjust browser settings to automatically block pop-up ads that open new windows and tabs. Viruses often hide behind advertisements attempting to convince users to either click them, inadvertently triggering malware installation, or download adware or fraudulent programs asking for personal information.

Some pop-ups don’t even need to be clicked for unwanted and contaminating downloads to begin. While a good anti-virus will guard against intrusive ads at your place of business, avoiding and blocking pop-ups so they never appear in the first place prevents any malware from slipping through the cracks.

5) Use an External Hard Drive

Back up and store important business information on an external hard drive that’s disconnected from the internet. Similarly, keeping private information off a network makes it impossible for anyone to steal it with a cyber attack. Sensitive user IDs, passwords, numbers, and codes that don’t need to be accessed through a network are best left off the shelf where hackers can’t find them.

Robust security procedures are essential for protecting business computers and the sensitive information they store. Following the five simple, yet crucial steps from above will ensure that your company’s system is always defended from malicious cyber attacks.

The threat of cyber crime affects every Internet user, but a steadfast security setup will greatly decrease the chances of office computers falling into the hands of hackers.