First tip: Have a strong password
It is imperative that every user in your company has a strong password. A user named John Deere having a password of Deere or Deere123 is not acceptable.
A strong password should contain the following at a minimum:
- Total of 8 characters
- 2 special characters
- 1 number
- 1 upper case letter
- 1 lower case letter
For things with sensitive company or financial information, we recommend using an online random password generator and store that password in a secure password database such as KeePass or LastPass. It is also a good practice of not reusing passwords in multiple places. KeePass or LastPass does a great job of logging all your various passwords.
Second tip: Enact a password rotation policy
Just like your car’s oil, it is important to change your password on a regular basis. We recommend this to be done at least every 6 months across any and all important systems, portals, or other websites. This will help in case of a security breach at one of these companies in the event that your password is leaked. Your company should have a password policy in place forcing this change.
Never reuse passwords and do not just change the last character! For example, changing a password from Banana17! to Banana18! is not a safe or good practice and should not be done.
You can click here to view the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s guidelines for digital identities.
Third tip: Utilize a good email spam filter/anti-virus
Using a trusted email filter such as Mimecast will help to filter out the malicious mail and unwanted spam before it even hits your mailbox. 92 percent of malware is transmitted via email (Source). It is also very important to have a good anti-virus solution on your machine such as ESET to better protect your PC and network from malicious files and websites.
Fourth tip: Configure your firewall properly
The firewall is the first line of defense on your network from cyber criminals. It is imperative that you have a security appliance that is up to date and properly configured on the edge (internet facing part) of your network. Ideally, you want your firewall to deny everything you don’t want and only allow what you need. It is a safe practice to deny as much as possible and explicitly allow only what is required.
Fifth tip: Lock your PC before you leave your desk
Get into the habit of locking your PC before you leave your desk. This can be done easily by pressing the Windows Key (bottom left corner of keyboard near the CTRL and ALT keys) + L if you are on a Windows PC, and Ctrl+Shift+Power if you’re on a Mac. Leaving your PC unlocked is like leaving a locker left open with your phone, wallet, and keys.
Cornell University has a page on their website dedicated to this topic about how important it is. If you walk away from your computer and leave it unlocked, it may compromise sensitive private and company data. Someone could delete or copy these things to a USB or transfer them via the internet to somewhere else. Your email may also be left open allowing a malicious actor to read your email and send things out.
Sixth tip: Use multi-factor authentication
You may have heard of this before. Multi-factor authentication can be anywhere from two or more factors. A factor is a different way of verifying you are who you say you are. An example of two factor authentication is when you log into your bank’s website with your password (first factor) and they text message you a code (second factor) to verify that it is indeed you signing in with your password.
The IRS requires multi-factor authentication be in use. Banks often require it. Services like Dropbox offer integration with many multi-factor authentication products to help ensure that you are protected as possible.
Can Garden State Computing help protect me?
Yes! We can definitely help you. Please visit our contact page to email us by clicking here or by clicking on the green button with our phone number to give us a call.