Your business’s reputation is everything, which is why keeping it secure from cyber threats is vital. Part of controlling your reputation is taking control of what information is available to customers online, but there’s more to it than that. You need to protect your business from zero-day exploit so that you never have to be the company that is in the spotlight for a data breach. Here are several different ways you can secure your online business reputation from cyber threats and protect your customer’s sensitive data.
1) Manage Your Online Reputation
While you can’t control everything that’s said about you online, you can manage your online reputation in a number of ways. First, make sure you have profiles on every social media site and that those profiles are verified (if the site offers that). Verifying your profile shows other users that it’s the official profile for your business. This will help mitigate any damage done by fake profiles. You also need to respond to any damaging comments in a positive way. Showing that you want to help customers who have had a bad experience can go a long way to demonstrating your dedication to customer service and satisfaction.
Also be certain you’ve reviewed the privacy settings on each social network so you know what exactly is being revealed to visitors. You may want to lock down your profile so it’s more secure, especially your personal profile.
2) Encrypt Information
Hackers want nothing more than to access your sensitive customer data. Some do it just for fun, while others do it to make money or cause chaos. No matter what their reasons, you need to make certain any private data you collect from your customers, especially their credit card information, is encrypted at all times. If you have a security breach that results in this information being published online or used in some malicious way, your reputation may be damaged beyond repair.
3) Make Sure Employees Use Strong Passwords
The strongest firewalls and other security programs in the world won’t do you any good if your employees use weak passwords that hackers can easily guess or work out within a few minutes. It’s vital that you train your employees to use strong passwords that combine upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Also make certain that all of your employees rotate their passwords on a regular basis. Your IT department can set it up so that this is required. Make certain that you’re following these guidelines, too!
4) Protect your Network from Malicious Programs and Viruses
There are a number of different security programs you can install on your system to help protect your network from viruses, malware, spyware, and other malicious programs. But you have to do more than have these programs installed. You have to make certain that they are updated on a regular basis and that all released patches are installed as soon as possible. These patches and updates address known security violations, and you can bet that if software companies are acknowledging these issues, hackers know about them, too.
You also need to be certain that if your employees are bringing their own laptops into the office that those laptops are secured, too. If they connect to your network using a personal computer that doesn’t have antivirus software installed, they may introduce malicious software to your system.
5) Be Smart with your Social Network Use
Be certain that you’re careful when using social networks so that hackers can’t steal your information. While you’ll want to share things like your business phone number and address, be sure you don’t share your own personal details. Otherwise, hackers can take your personal details and use them to steal your identity. Don’t offer any personal phone numbers or email addresses if you can help it—run everything through your office contact information instead.
6) Move to the Cloud
Cloud servers have become much more secure than they once were, and many businesses are utilizing these systems to protect their information. Users must log into the cloud to gain access to any information, and those accounts can quickly be locked down if a user’s password has been hacked or if they have lost their laptop or tablet. If you’re not using a cloud and a computer is lost, all of the data on that laptop has been compromised. With cloud computing, your information is more secure even though it’s kept on a remote server.
7) Keep Your Networks Secure
Make certain you have a strong firewall installed on your system and are encrypting your data using a very secure encryption system. Your Wi-Fi network needs to be secured as well and hidden so that it cannot easily be accessed. You also need to make use of intrusion detection software to scan your network and report any suspicious users. You can find a good IDS software download site site and install one of these programs so you always know if someone is on your network who shouldn’t be.
8) Train Everyone in Good Network Security Habits
While making sure all of your employees know how to create and use strong passwords is a good start in training them on good network habits, it’s only the beginning. They also need to be taught things such as how to identify and handle spam email, suspicious websites, and other security hazards. It’s not just your employees, either—your colleagues and, if you’re not the boss, your supervisors also need to know and practice these habits. Convincing upper management that they aren’t being secure in their computer usage can be difficult, but it’s vital that everyone understands how to keep your network protected.
9) Use a Virtual Private Network
A virtual private network or VPN can add another layer of security to your system. A VPN secures and encrypts data when employees access it remotely. It protects the system and all the devices on it from hacking threats and other issues, making a VPN essential if you have employees doing work remotely.
Originally published Oct 14, 2016, updated Aug 12, 2020