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Sponsor: Protect your business from cyberthreats in five simple steps

Sponsor: Protect your business from cyberthreats in five simple steps
© Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com

Last December, as the year was winding down to a close, an alarming email popped up in my inbox. The email was from my Director of IT, warning my entire staff about a phishing scam that had been aimed at my studios.

The scammers behind this email went to great lengths to create something that might convince my staff members to click on something they shouldn't have. The message appeared to come from Barry, my husband, and it included details that were relevant to our daily business operations.

Fortunately, the scam was identified before it caused any problems. My team was trained to recognize the signs, and how to react under those circumstances.

This example is just one of the reasons why I'm constantly sharing tips on protecting your business from cyberthreats. It's because I've been targeted by many of these scams personally, and I've seen the risk they pose to my business. So here are five things every business owner should do to protect the company they've worked so hard for.

1. Train your employees

It's true: You're only as strong as your weakest link. And while you love and respect each of your employees, any one of them could make you vulnerable to a cyberattack if you haven't trained them on what to look for.

There are several ways your employees could accidentally infect your entire system with a virus. Here are the most common:

  • Using third-party applications like Dropbox, Slack or Spotify on business computers.
  • Clicking on websites or advertisements for personal reasons knowing the link may not be secure.
  • Falling prey to phishing or social engineering scams that look like everyday business requests. (Click here to see an example.)
  • Using business computers to access personal accounts on social media or email during working hours.

Cybersecurity training for employees is the first step in preventing an accidental infection of your system. Every employee should understand they're not to trust unsolicited emails, click on suspicious attachments or links, and especially be wary of emails claiming to be from you that request any sort of private information.

2. Limit access to sensitive information

Many leaders pride themselves on their open-door policies, and while it's great to have a workplace environment that encourages open communication and collaboration, there are certain things you don't want to share with everyone.

This is why it's important that you protect the key components of your network with strong passwords, and only give those passwords to staff members who need it. After all, if it's simple for anyone working for you to access private documents, just imagine how easy it will be for a hacker to infiltrate your network. Click here for a list of passwords you should avoid at all costs since they leave you vulnerable to hackers.

3. Protect all devices

Running your business requires more than just a desktop computer for each of your employees. To keep things operating smoothly, you probably have employees with company cellphones, tablets and laptops - any of which could serve as an open door for a malware infection, such as ransomware, if you're not careful.

Even printers and other web-connected devices such as smart TVs need to be properly protected. Click here for step-by-step instructions on securing your entire wireless network.

4. Patch your system

Hackers are constantly looking for vulnerabilities that give them an open door. And, sadly, they're sometimes one step ahead of software developers.

This is why it's even more critical that you constantly update your system. Keep up to date with the most current operating systems and software patches. Microsoft issues a patch for its products each month, and Apple releases software updates as needed. If you fall behind on these critical updates, your entire network will be more susceptible to viruses.

Tip within a tip: Think your computer might already have a virus? Click here to learn the warning signs.

Beyond that, it's important that you don't skip protecting your business with a strong firewall, spam filter, and anti-virus software.

5. Have a backup plan

If you've taken the right steps, you won't have to worry about losing everything to a cyberattack. All of your sensitive data can be backed up automatically. And, if you're targeted, everything you've backed up can be easily recovered. It's as simple as signing up for Carbonite's backup service.

Most organizations tend to react to situations when they happen, rather than planning for them in advance. You should never believe that your company is too small or too specialized to be targeted by cybercriminals. 

Carbonite gives you complete peace of mind, even if your computers go to pieces out of nowhere or your system is infected with malware. Carbonite is a sponsor of the Kim Komando Show and Komando.com, but what you might not know is that we actually use it here at the studios.

If you don't know what Carbonite does, it automatically and securely backs up your important files to its remote servers. That way, they're safe no matter what happens.

With Carbonite, you can access your files from anywhere by logging into your account on Carbonite.com or using the Carbonite Mobile app for your smartphone or tablet. And restoring files is easy. Click here to see step-by-step instructions.

If you aren't using Carbonite, you really should. You'll love the convenience and protection it offers. You'll never have to worry about losing an important file again.

Get peace of mind today! Carbonite offers automatic cloud backup for files, photos and more. Get two free bonus months when you sign up, and use promo code KIM at checkout.

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