An apple a day may not keep the doctor away, but regular preventative check-ups have been shown to improve your health in the long run. When you invest in a relationship with your medical provider, you invest time in regular checking your body for signs of disease and stress, which can help you catch minor health problems before they grow into major issues.
The health of your company’s data is the same way. Instead of calling the IT consultants in when you’ve got a cyber disaster on your hands, take the time to follow some preventative measures and you’ll see an improvement the health and strength of your systems. Read on for 10 tips that will supercharge your system’s health (but trust that you’re still on your own when it comes to cholesterol).
- Updates + Monitoring. Keeping your software up to date is like eating a salad every day. It’s good to do, sure, but it won’t do much in the long run if you don’t continue to monitor other aspects of your overall health. Anti-malware, AV and anti-spam software programs are minimal components that need to be up to date and monitored—they aren’t a set it and forget it system, unfortunately (and neither is that Caesar with extra dressing!). INSERT LINK TO CYBER SECURITY ARTICLE
- Patch “Fix” Isn’t A Real Fix. Letting software automatically update is not a great thing to do – often a patch “fix” is released to fix a problem and, guess what? It causes a different problem, and often enough, it’s worse than the problem it was supposed to fix. Not cool. NENS strongly suggests using a patching system that controls when patches and updates are rolled out – this lets others be the guinea pig and you get the patches applied after the bulk of the problems have been discovered. Not sure how to do this? No worries, that’s what IT consultants are for!
- Enable a Firewall. Like taking your daily multivitamin, this is a small but powerful step that can keep your system healthy, so don’t diminish the role of the firewall in your overall digital health plan!
- Strong, Secure…Passwords. Pumping iron in the gym gives you the strength and power you crave in your body, and yeah, we get it, stringing a list of letters and numbers just doesn’t provide the same kind of endorphin high. But passwords matter, and they matter enough to invest in a program designed to manage the kind of strong, secure passwords your systems require. Can you remember SjiRKy2yI4GycqFTxkQJMMSH off the top of your head? Yeah, we can’t either. That’s why NENS recommends a password manager to remember and protect truly secure passwords. Too many people use simple passwords with personal associations, like pet names, dates, cars, etc. It may feel like it’s saving you time in the short run, but just like skipping that last set of reps, it will only make you weak.
- No Free Lunch! Downloading music and movies from peer-to-peer networks can be harmful to your machine—and your network. Think about it: free music and videos are never really “free”—the cost you’ll pay come sin the form of a virus that stows neatly away in the next episode of your fave binge watch. Believe us, it’s simply not worth the risk.
- Keep Your Personal Info Out of Your Emails. If you have to share personal, sensitive information, try to call with it, or, be sure you’re submitting it across a secure, encrypted connection. Never just send private information in email. The “good” news? There’s actually a state law (MA 201 CMR 17) that makes this illegal for businesses to transmit or even store personal information for MA residents. So not only is this a very bad idea to send unprotected information, it’s also illegal. Not sure if the site you’re on is safe and encrypted? A great way to check about the reputation of a site is to Google it. Put the site name in and look for reviews and comments. Poke around a bit. More often than not, suspicious sites will have reports warning about their shady—and illegal—activity.
- Start ‘Em Young. Just as healthy physical habits start at home with plenty of fresh veggies, fruits, and physical activity, so must healthy cyber habits. There are plenty of parent nightmares out there when it comes to the Internet, but even the mildest ones are no walk in the park. Teach your children to avoid clicking on suspicious ads and teach them how to avoid phishing sites that ask for personal info. Otherwise you may just end up on a mailing list, and calling list, and email list…all from some impressionable youngster thinking she was getting a free iPad in the mail. Ahem. Not that we’re speaking from personal experience or anything.
- Know What You’re Putting in Your System. Just as you should read all the information associated with your medications and supplements, it’s important to be clear on just what you’re installing when you click “download.” That hypothetical iPad scenario? Yeah, let’s just say those kid sized clicks came with a virus to match. Thanks to a data backup, the damage was minimal—can you say the same thing about your systems?
- Clean Your Machine. When you finish a round on the rowing machine, you do the right thing and wipe off any evidence that you were there. When you use a public machine or network, you should do the same thing. Completely log off of any services or systems, like email or other accounts, and ensure the machine hasn’t “remembered” you unless it’s a totally secure, private connection. Then, log off altogether so that you leave the machine clean and ready for the next person—and keep your own information safe and secure.
- Back it Up. Yeah, yeah, we’re the IT guys so we’ve got to hit you hard with this, but we can’t tell you enough. Just like regular exercise, backing up your data is one of those things that, if you put it off, will make everything harder down the road. Just like you know a brisk walk is good for you, you know that backing up your systems is, too. So do the right thing for your digital health and back up your data regularly and consistently. Looking to make sure you’re doing it right? Consider IT managed services for regular, consistent backups that won’t backfire!
When you give your digital systems the preventative care they need, you’ll find less fires to fight in the future. It won’t make you lose those last 10 pounds, but it will help you and your employees protect important data and information, so you can live a slightly less stressed life—which is just what the doctor ordered.