Cyber Security - What You Need to Know

March 16, 2023

We’ve all heard of cyberattacks, but what are they specifically? In short, a cyberattack is a malicious attempt to attack or damage a computer network or system. The havoc a cyber attack wreaks on individuals, businesses, and  organizations can range from a minor nuisance to catastrophic. A cyber attack can cause a lot of problems, including:

  •  Financial security damage, including theft
  •  Accessing and forfeiting private information
  •  Blocking access or altogether deleting your online accounts

This is just scratching the surface of what you may be looking at when you encounter a cyberattack. Do you think you or your business is not at risk of a cyber scam? Well guess what? You’re exactly the kind of victim online predators are looking to target - someone who thinks they are NOT a target. 

Fortunately, there are some practical steps you and your employees can take to reduce the risk of becoming a cyberattack victim and increase your system’s security.

#1 - Don’t Recognize It? Don’t Open It!

This should be 101 for you and your employees, if you’re a business owner. If you receive an email that looks a little “off”? Something smell phishy? Leave it be. Often scammers will send links that they know will look familiar to you, but they ask you to do something that seems strange, like change or enter a password. Ironically, the message may tell you that you’ve been the victim of a cybercrime and must enter your private information (passwords, credit card info, social security numbers, etc.) to correct the situation. They may even appear to be sent to you by someone you know personally, which could be tempting to trust. These are phishing scheme attempts that made it past your spam folder. Get rid of them immediately!

#2 - Choose Strong Passwords

Choosing a weak password is like locking your front door and leaving a note on the door telling people where to find the key. You might as well have not even locked the door. The average person is expected to remember an average of 30 passwords. Most people start to experience what’s known as “cyber fatigue” after about five passwords and begin making poor password choices. Scammers know this and have their own sharp algorithms to crack repetitive and weak passwords. 

Here are some tips to creating strong passwords:

  • Computers are better at being random than we are. When possible, opt for a randomly generated strong password created by your computer or device. 
  • Each password should be unique and never used for anything else.
  • Go for at least 15 characters

#3 - Keep Your Software Updated

You may be asking how cybersecurity could possibly be connected to updating your software. After all, how many times do you update your computer or device and not notice any difference afterward, as though nothing had happened? Well, something did happen when you updated; a lot of things, actually. 

Online scammers are looking for any flaws in your system that they can take advantage of to make their attack easier. Teams of network defenders work around the clock to fix these bugs as soon as possible, but their work is only successful if your devices are up to date.

Here’s a few reminders of how and what needs to be updated to keep you safe:

  • The operating system on cell phones, laptops, and tablets should be updated whenever one becomes available.
  • Update your apps on all devices, especially web browsers.
  • Set all your devices, apps, and operating systems to automatic updates.

#4 - Utilize Multifactor Authentication

If you’ve never heard of it, Multifactor Authentication (also sometimes called Two Factor Authentication, or Two Step Factor Authentication) is when you opt into an additional step when valid apps and websites require you to confirm that you are who you’re saying you are. It’s a step beyond just a password, which can more easily be cracked, copied, or stolen altogether.

To verify you are who you say you are, they will ask for two different forms of information. Among these might include the following:

  • Something you know, such as a PIN or a piece of information you have set up ahead of time, like the name of your childhood best friend.
  • Something you have, which might come in the form of a confirmation text/email or the use of an authentication app on your phone.
  • Who you are, like a fingerprint or an actual face ID.

As our world becomes increasingly digital and more interconnected, keeping yourself and your business secure is critical. Of course, cyber security is only one kind of security. Learn about the ways Althans can serve your commercial and personal insurance needs. Still have questions? Reach out to us today!