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How to Stay Secure on Halloween

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Here’s a cold, hard fact that’s no trick: data disasters can happen any time. Wiping away your critical business information isn’t just the stuff of horror-film nightmares. All it takes is one inadvertent click, one accidental deletion, or one data breach for havoc to set in.

Ransomware, malware, and spyware can infiltrate your computer in many different ways: after an employee clicks a bad link or visits a malicious website. Weak password security can give hackers access to your computer, your company’s systems, and any connected devices. Even something as simple as a spilled coffee or a lost device can lead to data loss.

How do you prevent such data disasters? No single security practice or strategy can provide comprehensive protection. That’s why a multi-tiered approach to security is necessary, with various IT solutions like proactive maintenance and monitoring, password management, data encryption, automatic backup, and online common sense working together to weave a strong security tapestry.

The only surefire way to protect computers and the information they store from ransomware attacks is with automatic, remote data backup and recovery. This allows you to roll back to an uninfected machine and restore unencrypted data if you do become infected.

Below are 5 more of CMIT Solutions’ favorite security strategies to stay safe this Halloween:

1. Work with a trusted IT advisor who can deploy software updates and security patches automatically and regularly.

Many recent ransomware attacks have compromised untold amounts of unprotected data and cost small businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars because potential fixes hadn’t yet been installed. With the assistance of a trusted partner like CMIT Solutions, you don’t have to suffer the consequences of an unsupported operating system — or worry about when or how to deploy such updates and patches.

2. Build a protective barrier of anti-spam, anti-malware, anti-virus, and network security solutions around your devices and your data.

As we mentioned above, no single layer of preventative measures can protect from every cyberthreat. But the right combination of products working harmoniously together, all supported by a trusted tech team, can construct enough roadblocks to keep data protected and systems free from infection. This is particularly important if you allow computers or devices to connect to your company’s network from remote locations.

3. Use caution with suspicious emails, annoying pop-ups, and “too good to be true” ads.

With a large majority of Americans connected in some way to the Internet and social media, everyone needs to know the basics of security awareness. If you receive strange-looking emails, examine the email address of the sender carefully to see if it’s coming from a legitimate domain name. If you see sloppy typos or grammatical errors in the body copy, mark it as spam or delete it immediately. Hover over web addresses without clicking on them to see whether they direct you to suspicious web pages (beware of long strings of unconnected letters and numbers instead of real web addresses). If an email has arrived from your financial institution, credit card issuer, or utilities provider, remember that they are instructed to never ask via email for sensitive information like passwords or Social Security numbers. If an annoying pop-up appears on your screen, don’t click any viral-looking headlines or flashy ads — just safely close the window by clicking the X in the corner.

4. Rely on strong passwords and two-factor authentication.

Creating strong passwords and never using the same password across multiple sites is one of the most important things you can do to protect your online identity. But no matter how strong you and your employees think your passwords are, remember this: hacking software can test up to 10 billion password combinations in seconds. That’s why two-factor authentication, which requires you to enter your password and then verify your identity by entering a unique code you receive via text message or email, is equally important. And the secure password generators included in many all-in-one password management solutions can randomly create long, complicated passwords you’d never remember (and then remember them for you), sidestepping the old “password123” dilemma.

5. Develop and implement employee security practices.

The previous two steps roll up into this one: employees can serve as the first line of protection for spotting phishing or ransomware emails and never clicking on an illicit web link or downloading a malicious attachment. But they need training to know how to perform those actions, which is why specific policies and strong security practices need to be in place. Empowered with regular and recurring training about the nature of today’s online threats, employees can help to stop cyberattacks in their tracks.

This Halloween, if you’re plagued by IT horrors, haunted by cybersecurity threats, or disturbed by devastating downtime, CMIT Solutions can help. With multi-layered protection, network security, proactive monitoring, and secure data storage, we can help you keep your systems safe, your data secure, and your day-to-day operations up and running. Want to keep your office from turning into a horror movie this Halloween? Contact CMIT Solutions today.

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