From ransomware to targeted cyber espionage attacks, 2016 was a tough year for data security professionals as hackers continued to breach the security wall and get away with a huge amount of data and money. All big names such as Yahoo, LinkedIn, Amazon, Verizon and many financial institutions suffered from big data losses.
According to Kaspersky Lab’s overall statistics 2016, Kaspersky solutions prevented 758,044,650 attacks launched from different parts of the world. In wake of such a situation, how can project managers keep their sensitive data safe? In this article, we answer this question by highlighting key security steps project managers can take to minimize the risk of similar attacks.
1. Install an Antivirus
First, you must invest on an effective antivirus. Free anti-viruses will only provide the basic level of protection. Go premium and choose a reliable solution provider that offer foolproof security to your projects and business. It acts as the first line of defense against security attacks and prevents them from causing damage to your sensitive data. It takes care of a variety of security threats such as malware, viruses, spyware and adware. Some even offer email protection and prevent harmful downloads.
2. Take Regular Backup of Your Data
If you are not taking regular backup of your data, you are risking your data. Make sure that you take frequent backups of your data. It will also help you to protect against one of the most common cyber attacks today, Ransomware. Even if a cyber attack targets your system, you can easily restore and reclaim your data if you have a backup ready. You can also use a cloud storage to make copies of your data and store it there. Schedule regular backup to protect and keep your data safe otherwise you will have to regret later.
3. Install a Firewall
Roland Cloutier, Chief Security Officer for ADP and board member of National Cyber Security Alliance said, “Firewalls are a must to protect your network.” One of the best ways to protect your network is to install a firewall. Although, it is an old technique to secure your network but it is very effective even today. It keeps your network secure by managing internet traffic coming in and going out of the network.
4. Use Complex Passwords
According to Microsoft’s password creation guidelines, you should never use any personal data, common words spelled backward and sequence of character and numbers as your password. Security experts suggest that you should use a password that is hard to guess and contains combination of numbers, upper and lower case letters and symbols to make it hack-proof. The ideal length of your passwords should be anywhere around 10-12 characters. If you follow the advice given above, you can prevent your password from getting in wrong hands.
5. Use Encryption Software
Laptops have replaced desktops as the preferred device at workplaces. Just like mobile devices, portability factor puts laptop at a much higher risk of being stolen or lost. Security experts recommend that you use encryption software to encrypt your laptops. Roland Cloutier further suggests that you should never leave your laptop in the car, where it is a soft target for thieves.
6. Update Your Software
It is quite unfortunate to see many businesses still using old software and operating system. The problem with that approach is that it makes you more vulnerable to security attacks and many business owners do not realize it. As a project manager, you should ensure that you use good software but more importantly, you should keep them updated to the latest versions. The advantage of using updated software is that it fixes many bugs and loopholes that a hacker can exploit and protect you from cyber attacks.
7. Secure Mobile Devices
With the proliferation of mobile devices and an increase in their capabilities, they now contain a huge amount of data. You cannot count out the advantages of mobile devices such as portability but you should never ignore the risk attached to it either. They have become prime targets for hackers due to their popularity. Mobile devices are easier to get lost or stolen and securing them is much harder but the amount of data it holds these days forces you to take mobile security seriously. The best way to safeguard your mobile device is to take advantage of advanced features such as remote wiping, two-way authentication and encryption.
8. Protect Wireless Networks
Wireless networks are at a greater risk of cyber attacks as compared to a wired network because of its open nature and comparatively weaker control. Therefore, it is important to pay extra attention towards securing your wireless networks. Use WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access Version 2) technology to secure your wireless network. If you are still using old technology such as WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), then switch immediately to latest wireless security because they are much more secure than their older counterparts. You can also add a layer of security by using complex PSK (Pre-Shared Key)
9. Keep an Eye on Suspicious Activity
Hackers are always one step ahead of the cyber security professionals. They somehow find a way to get inside the most secured system. Even with so many security measures to protect your data, you cannot afford to sit back and relax. As a project manager, you should be on your toes all the time keeping an eye out for suspicious activity in the network. Raise red flags as soon as you notice any suspicious activity and have a counter strategy to deal with such issues.
10.Educate Your Team
Probably the most ignored step on this list, most businesses rarely pay attention towards educating their employees about cyber security. Due to this, cyber security attacks are increasing on a daily basis. Despite establishing a secured infrastructure, you end up losing your data. This happens because your employees do not have adequate knowledge. Inform them about the latest technology trends and security threats.
By educating your team members, you can eliminate the risks of malware and ransomware. Malware can enter your system through multiple channels but one of the most common among them is malicious links, which your employees click. Cyber attackers use social engineering to conduct ransomware attacks. You can easily prevent these common ransomware attacks from harming your systems by creating awareness among your employees. With little education, you can easily prevent that.
With growing cyber security attacks, keeping your personal data safe is becoming more of a challenge for businesses. By taking aforementioned steps coupled with creating awareness among your employees, you can easily identify, prevent and eliminate the risk of cyber attacks. Moreover, you can keep your data secure, even in today’s turbulent cyber security environment.