Since last September, hackers have targeted major U.S. financial institutions and affected prestigious organizations, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Company, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo, USA Today reports. Following an August outage that shut down stock trading for three hours and put hundreds of millions of dollars at risk for Goldman Sachs, experts warn that Nasdaq remains vulnerable to cyberattacks, according to New York Daily News.
Smaller companies are at risk too. Symantec found one third of attacks in 2012 targeted businesses with fewer than 250 employees. But if big business is susceptible to hacking, how much more vigilant do small businesses need to be? No network is immune, but there are steps any webmaster can take to harden their company’s security.
Within four years, more than half of global employers will require workers to bring their own devices to work, rather than supplying them, Gartner projects. This creates new vulnerabilities that company networks must secure. Small business BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) security policies should restrict which devices employees are allowed to use and what software is installed, while taking measures to properly encrypt data. Employees should also be educated in device security policies.
Two days after Apple’s new iPhone 5S introduced its Touch ID fingerprint scanner to revolutionize device security, hackers had already announced they had figured out a way around it, Reuters reports. It’s hard to stay ahead of hackers, but using two-factor authentication methods that go beyond traditional passwords improves Internet security.
Current hacking software can crack passwords up to 55 characters in length. Relying on a password for security isn’t enough anymore. Add an extra layer of security to your network by using multiple identity verification methods, such as device authentication and PINs delivered via phone, email or traditional mail.
Select character strings with sufficient length and complexity to make a hacker’s job more difficult. At least 15 digits with a combination of capital and small letters, numbers and punctuation marks will reduce the odds of an easy hack.
Phishing attacks rose in August, and these attacks targeted Apple users with emails containing malicious attachments, including worms that have been around since at least 2004 but continue to be destructive, says PCWorld. Protect your company email by ensuring your employees understand the threat of phishing. Phishing remains the most prevalent form of cyberattacks and costs the global economy an estimated $1.5 billion in 2012, EMC reports. Train your employees not to open suspicious emails or click on unusual email attachments.
Eighty percent of Windows-based enterprise computers continue to run an outdated version of Java with known vulnerabilities, revealed a Websense survey. Companies can avoid this type of unnecessary risk by maintaining good software update policies that make sure all applications and antivirus programs stay up-to-date.
About the Author: Russell Beaty
After 15 years providing networking solutions in corporate America, Russell now runs an IT consulting business out of his home.