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12 Tips for Year-Round Cyber Security

While October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, every month should be cyber security month in your IT system. Whether you’re suffering the cold winds of January, or loving the sun-soaked days of July, your IT system is under potential attack – and everyday offers a chance to prevent it.

Check out our 12 tips to make sure you work in over the year.

1. Make it a New Year’s Resolution to Back Up – Everybody makes New Year’s resolutions they never stick to, but this is one you should put on the priority list. Make having a system backup, then maybe a backup of the backup, this year’s resolution to stick to. Implementing effective and efficient backup systems to keep your IT system online through any host of issues throughout the year.

2. Passwords Pretty in Pink – Like the box of chocolates or flowers you want to give your romantic partner on Valentine’s day, make sure your passwords are pretty too. Simple passwords that are easily hacked are an easy source of entry for hackers, and can leave your systems wide open while you’re out for Valentine’s Day dinner. Make sure your passwords are effective, and changed often, for improved security.

3. St. Security Policy Day – If you don’t already have a security policy in place, it could lead to poor adherence to security policies company-wide. Set up your security policy today and make sure all your employees are onboard with the compliance necessities your system requires.

4. April Showers of Spam Mail – Nobody likes spam mail, yet it’s an ever-present threat in the web-driven world. Be smart about spam mail. Opening strange email links, especially those you feel are “asking too much” from you, is one of the top ways systems are hacked. Be wary of the showers of spam mail that come in, and be on the lookout for strange URLs, poor grammar, poor design or a lack of “https” in the URL.

5. May the Phones Be With You – Every smartphone is a small, personal computer filled with loads of sensitive information. If you haven’t already installed encryption and password protection software on employee smartphones, do it now, because if they fall into the wrong hands unprotected, it might ruin the rest of your year.

6. Lock it Down When You Go Out – Hackers and thieves don’t care if it’s the longest day of the year on the summer solstice – their attacks are still coming in. Make sure any devices you leave unattended are locked down, just incase someone decides to swoop in and snatch your unattended belongings.

7. Don’t Bury Your Head in the Beach Sand – Companies thinking “that can’t happen to us” is the first misstep in having total systems failure due to hacking. If you’re not prepared, it will be all that much easier for hackers to attack. Make sure you’re not burying your head in the beach sand this summer by ignoring common attacks, and get your system up to speed for threat protection.

8. Don’t Brag About Vacation Plans – Just like you wouldn’t tell the world you’re leaving your house for a week when you’re going on vacation, don’t post things on private or professional social media that will alert potential threats to a weakness in your security.

9. Take Network Attendance – Like the first day of school role call, it’s important to have an attendance list of network necessities. Make sure to properly monitor your firewall and file server, preferably with active real monitoring to make sure there’s no hacker playing hockey in your network.

10. Avoid Costumed Phone Calls – Be wary of cold calls in which someone attempts to gain information from you or your staff by pretending to “dress up” as someone else, or offering a treat too good to be true. A great policy is to always ask for contact info and call them back. This gives you or your employee a moment to verify their identity and/or credentials, usually with a quick Internet search. You don’t want to be duped by a guy in a mask.

11. Be Thankful for Relevant Software – Do you know all the software on your system? Take some time to look through and be thankful for the stuff you have that protects your network…and to remove the stuff that doesn’t. Have your system vetted by a pro, and show thanks by keeping everything properly updated and patched.

12. Don’t Spend Too Much This Holiday Season (Online) – Do you do a lot of online shopping around the holidays. Chances are you do, and if you’re shopping on a public network, it’s one of the most efficient ways to have your data stolen. Make sure to only use private, secure networks for your online transactions – otherwise the holidays might get a lot more expensive.

Cyber security is a year-round task, and no one knows that better than the IT security professionals at NENS. Whether you’re enjoying the warm days of summer or braving the cold of winter, NENS can offer the cyber security protection you need to know your data will be safe all season long.

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—Kristen Hammond
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