June 14, 2016


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Not to scare you, but there’s a good chance you’re leaving data wide open for hackers without even knowing it. There are several common ways well-intentioned people inadvertently threaten their own safety. If you’re doing any of the following, your data is at risk:

1. Operating without a firewall.

A firewall is like a sentry that stands outside the door of your network and evaluates the traffic passing in and out (technically he stands inside the door too, but this is to appease any engineers who may be reading this). He utters, “you’ll shall not pass,” to untrusted visitors, thereby keeping private networks, like company intranets, safe from ill-intentioned users.

2. Not using encryption.

Encryption is the best, and easiest, way to protect your information, yet too many people don’t encrypt their devices. They either don’t understand encryption, or they associate it with scary stuff like terrorism and high-level hackers. This fear is unfounded—encryption is your friend, folks.

Essentially, encryption is an algorithm that scrambles data into gibberish, and to unscramble it, a key must be entered. For a more detailed explanation of how encryption works, read this and this (pictures included!).

Yes, in the wrong hands, encryption can be misused (the same goes for just about anything) but this is no reason for law-abiding citizens to not use this extremely effective security measure.

3.Using weak passwords.

One of the most common ways people compromise their data safety is creating weak passwords. They choose things that are easy to remember and type, like the name of a pet. But while the name of your beloved cat may roll off the fingertips, get this: hackers can guess a password like “snuffles” in approximately four days (Bloomberg). Even scarier: six-letter, all-lowercase passwords can be cracked in just 10 minutes. Makes you think twice about using “123456,” doesn’t it? It should.

 4. Not using anti-malware.

Malware, which is short for malicious software, refers to a variety of bad things you never want sneaking into your computer, e.g. viruses, spyware, ransomware, worms and Trojans (and yes, Macs get malware, too). Anti-malware is what keeps these bandits out, and it can be a software program (like Norton), or built-in hardware.

5. Having a weak data security policy for employees.

Data security threats don’t just come from the outside. Often it’s a company’s own employees who are threatening an organization’s safety. Don’t believe it? According to PwC’s 2014 US State of Cybercrime Survey, 28 percent of data security incidents come from inside.

This doesn’t mean employees are intentionally sabotaging their employers. Rather, it means many people don’t know how to practice proper network security and therefore inadvertently threaten data safety. For example, say Stan from accounting accidentally downloads an application he shouldn’t have, or Barb, the executive assistant, falls prey to a phishing email she believed was from the CEO. Teaching employees how to safely work with data—and enforcing the policy—is critical to mitigating risk.

How safe are your IT operations?

Let us take a look. ECS performs risk assessments as well as mitigation, so contact us to today for a free 30-minute consultation.

ECS IT Solutions Partners