In 2024, cybersecurity is more critical for your business than ever. By implementing strategies and measures to safeguard your computers and the important data they store, you ensure your personal information is kept safe from those with bad intentions. Just as you wouldn’t leave your wallet out in the open for thieves, you shouldn’t keep your computer’s personal information open to hackers. Whether you’re a remote worker or in the office, here’s what you need to know to keep your business and its sensitive information safe and sound.

Why is cybersecurity important for your business?

As technology and computers continue to become more advanced, so do the techniques of hackers and those with malicious intent. Unfortunately, running a business today makes you a target for numerous scams and cybersecurity threats. Canada, in particular, has experienced a significant increase in cyber attacks.

According to the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (CCCS), over 70,000 cyber incidents were reported in 2023. This marked a 25% increase from 2022! These attacks ranged from malware and ransomware attacks to phishing scams and data breaches. This impacted local businesses to large institutions, such as the Toronto District School Board. According to the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre (CCIRC), the total cost of cybercrime totaled a staggering $3 billion in 2023, with over 58% of victims taking over six months to notice the incident was occurring.

So, how can we keep ourselves and our businesses secure in such a scary technological climate? Here is a list of 10 cyber security best practices to take as a business owner.

So, what are cyber security best practices for your business?

1. Keep your software up to date

Keeping your computer up to date may not seem like a huge step, but it is critical to keeping its contents safe. Make sure to always install software updates for your operating systems and their programs while installing the latest security updates for your devices. Most computers nowadays will operate automatically, so make sure “Automatic Updates” are turned on to avoid missing it. It is also important to make sure you use browsers like Google Chrome or Firefox that receive frequent, automatic security updates. Last but not least, if you use browser plug-ins, like Flash or Java, make sure they are frequently updated as well.

2. Avoid phishing scams and other types of fraud

Phishing scams are a constant threat, not just for your business, either. Hackers will use various social engineering tactics and attempt to trick you into releasing personal information. The type of information these cyber criminals are generally after includes login IDs, passwords, and banking or credit card information. These scams are most commonly executed through email. However, they can also be carried out via phone calls, text messages, or social networking sites. It is important to be suspicious of any email message or phone call that asks for personal information, no matter how official it may look.

3. Practice good password management

No matter who you are, chances are you have a few accounts that require a password to log into. It can be easy to take the lazy route and use the same password for everything. However, this is not a cybersecurity best practice. Whether it’s your banking information or a Netflix account, it is key to make sure you use different passwords across the board. If you need assistance keeping track of them all, a password manager program, such as LastPass, can keep track for you securely. On top of this, it will remind you to regularly update your password when it’s time.

4. Think twice before clicking

This cybersecurity best practice can easily be forgotten about. Visiting unknown websites and downloading software from sources that aren’t trusted is never a smart idea. More often than not, these sites will host malware that automatically and silently installs itself on your computer, compromising it. Be sure to never click links in emails that are from an untrusted source!

5. Safeguard protected data

When it comes to high-level protected data, it is important to safeguard it at all costs. High-level protected data includes Social Insurance Numbers (SIN), credit card information, as well as health information. This information must be kept off of your work computers, laptops, and mobile devices, both business and personal. That is unless it is properly and safely protected. If you are in a situation where you need to have this information stored, make sure you use strong encryption when storing it. When you are done with the information, make sure it is safely removed from your computer

6. Practice cybersecurity on your mobile phone

Our mobile devices have become a part of our everyday lives. Unfortunately, these devices are extremely susceptible to attacks. To prevent any cyber attacks and to keep yourself safe, it is important to treat it as a computer and make sure no suspicious files are opened on it. On top of this, make sure your device is constantly locked with a PIN or password. Additionally, it is important to make sure you only install apps from trusted sources, such as the Apple AppStore or Google Play. Devices, like Find My iPhone and Android Device Manager, are also key tools to help you find your mobile device in the event it is lost or stolen.

7. Never leave your device unattended

The security of your devices goes beyond just technological aspects of protection. Keeping your devices physically secure is just as important. It is crucial to make sure devices, such as laptops, phones, and tablets, are never left unattended. If you need to step away from them briefly, make sure they are shut down or locked up properly. It is important to make sure protected data that is kept on external hard drives or flash drives is kept locked up.

8. Regularly back up your data

Make sure your data is regularly backed up. In the event you are the victim of a security incident, the only guaranteed way to repair your system is to erase all of its contents, and then re-install the system.

9. Keep up to date on your cybersecurity/anti-virus protection

Using a computer without antivirus protection is like driving a car that doesn’t lock its doors. Make sure your anti-virus software is downloaded from a known and trusted source. On top of this, it is crucial to make sure it is kept up-to-date to ensure it is being used effectively and doing its job.

10. Use a VPN

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a program that allows you to hide and mask your IP from potential hackers and cyber attacks. This is done by routing your connection to a remote server, thus masking your IP address and hiding your location. Virtual Private Networks are extremely useful when it comes to protecting yourself from ISP tracking, third-party advertisers, and cybercriminals. This is a great tool for remote workers!

Developing a cybersecurity incident response plan

According to the Cyber Centre, a cyber incident is an unauthorized attempt to gain access to, destroy, or delete any computer network or system resource. From phishing and ransomware to Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDOS) attacks, it comes in many forms. If the unfortunate occurs and one of these scenarios happens to you, you will need a cybersecurity incident response plan.

An incident response plan assures that your organization is trained to detect, respond to, and recover from different types of cyber incidents. No matter the situation, you’re going to want to recover as quickly as possible. With a plan in motion, you can do so without interrupting services and continue business as usual.

A proper incident response plan should include the following:

  • Specific roles and responsibilities of each team member.
  • Specific steps to take regarding reporting an incident.
  • Specific instructions on how to handle each specific incident.

Cybersecurity best practices: Cyber Insurance

Did you know that there is insurance available that protects you from cyber incidents? This is known as Cyber Liability Insurance. This insurance is crucial when it comes to organizing and running a business, especially if you regularly use technology and the internet to do so. However, regardless of the size of your business, every type presents an opportunity for a cybercriminal to target you.

Cyber Liability Insurance will protect you and your business from internet-based risks. It is of the utmost importance when it comes to practicing safe cybersecurity habits. This will help you if you lose business due to a cyber incident. It will also cover losses from network security breaches, as well as theft of intellectual property.

Final thoughts on cybersecurity best practices

At the end of the day, staying safe and secure on the internet is no easy task. With this being said, staying up to date with cybersecurity best practices will help you maintain peace of mind and keep you and your business safe and secure. If you have any questions regarding cyber liability insurance, contact us today at isure or request a quote.

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