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Preferred Blog

Preferred has been serving the Tinley Park area since 1991, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Two Ways to Ward off Hackers

Two Ways to Ward off Hackers

Has your business been targeted by hackers? Do you even know? Let’s face it, small businesses don’t typically worry all that much about cybersecurity. To many small business owners, they might see it as a luxury for their perceived risk. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that hackers and scammers are targeting small businesses more regularly than they have in the past and without some kind of dedicated cybersecurity strategy, there could be a good chance that your business could run into some problems because of it. 

If you are like us, you’re sick of hearing about these hackers. They just are fraudsters and thieves that are trying to get over on hard working people running legitimate endeavors. Here are two things you can do as a decision maker at a small business that will help you control your business’ data and computing infrastructure. 

Improve Your Password Practices

Most computing systems require a login and password for access. There are several things you can do on this level to improve your chances of securing your network and infrastructure. The first is to ensure that your staff knows how to construct a secure password. If you were to outline the fundamentals of cybersecurity, it would start with a password strategy that works to protect a business. This has three levels. They are:

  • Password creation - Learning how to construct a secure password will go a long way toward protecting your business’ digital assets. Some strategies include creating a passphrase that is easily remembered, but hard to guess. Couple this strategy with use of different cases, numbers, and symbols and you’ve got a system to create passwords that work for end users and administrators alike.
  • Password management - Every user has dozens of accounts that they need to remember passwords for. Without a password management strategy, this can cause people to create insecure passwords that can leave systems open to being hacked. With a password management system every user gets an encrypted repository to store all of their passwords in. Users then only need to remember one password rather than dozens. Check out I Changed All My Passwords and It Was a Nightmare (But Totally Worth It) in this issue for more information on that.
  • Multi-factor authentication - On most password accounts today there is the option to turn on multi-factor authentication (or two-factor authentication {authorization}). This adds another layer of security to a password-driven account by having the account holder provide another form of authentication. This can be anything as simple as a random code created from an authentication app or sent through email to something as complex as biometric authentication by reading a person’s fingerprint or irises. 

By improving your business’ password strategy, you will improve the front lines of defense between a hacker/scammer and your business’ computing infrastructure. 

Patch and Update Software

Another frequent form of infiltration into any network is accomplished through exploiting vulnerabilities in the business’ infrastructure. This happens when the software that a business depends on is not patched and updated promptly. Sure, there are situations where no patch is available for a vulnerability (known as zero-day threats), but these are much less likely than cyberattackers using known vulnerabilities that haven’t been patched yet. 

For the security-minded company—regardless of its size—patching and updating software is an absolute must. This means every piece of software used for your company. This includes communications software, antivirus and firewalls...Everything.  Since this can take some time, the IT professionals at Preferred have made it a point to add it to a managed IT services agreement. We figure, if you are paying us to monitor and maintain your business’ IT, why not make it easier on us by patching and updating software as a part of routine maintenance?

There are plenty of other steps you can take to attempt to ward off hackers, but you will find that if you can protect your network endpoints and ensure there aren’t any glaring vulnerabilities, your small business is going to avoid the annoyance of being hacked. If you would like to talk to us about getting our IT professionals to monitor your network, or if you would just like to talk about steps you can take to keep your business secure, reach out to our consultants today at 708-781-7110.

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