How to Keep Your Organization's Information Safe and Secure
Published: 4/15/21 (Thu)
Over the past several years, entities have transitioned more and more of their operations to online environments and migrated their documents into cloud storage, allowing greater mobility and accessibility for employees. These benefits have proved critical during the pandemic because they enable employees to work remotely with little to no interruption, but they also present new security challenges.
Employees who are working remotely may be accessing organizational data from their homes, hotels, or public areas such as libraries or coffee shops, making it critical they understand the difference between secured and unsecured networks.
- Secured networks protect users’ information and online activity and include cellular networks (4G/LTE, 5G, etc.) or networks that require a password to connect. Employees working from home should be sure to change their router’s default password and security settings to further enhance the security of their home network.
- Unsecured networks do not require a password to connect, leading to the possible exposure of users’ information or their data. Employees should always use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if they access organizational data from an unsecured or shared network at hotels or other venues where passwords are widely distributed.
Defending Against Malware
In addition to trying to gain access to organizational data through unsecure network connections, bad actors will also use various forms of malware, including viruses, ransomware, and spyware. Malware is distributed through various channels, such as via email as links or attachments, software downloads, and pop-ups.
Employees may not always know when their computers and/or devices may be compromised, but common indicators include slow processing speeds, rapid battery depletion, frequent pop-ups, and unrecognized programs or browser add-ons. Employees should promptly contact their IT department if their computer exhibits any of these signs.
As the first line of defense against malware, employees should be routinely reminded to look for signs their computers and/or devices have been compromised as well as perform the following actions:
- Verify the sender and context of emails before clicking on links, opening attachments, or responding to them
- Ask IT department for permission prior to downloading applications or files
- Research unfamiliar websites before visiting them to ensure they are legitimate
- Install software updates to ensure computers and devices are using the latest operating system
Personal Device Protection
If employees use personal devices for work purposes, it’s recommended they require login authentication (passcode, biometrics, facial recognition, etc.), install tracking software or firmware to locate lost or stolen devices, and avoid storing confidential or sensitive information on devices.
Choose a Strong Passphrase
As hackers become more sophisticated every day, strong passwords are becoming an even more important tool in protecting employee and organizational information and applications.
Dictionary words, which are words as they are presented in the dictionary (i.e. no special cases, characters, or symbols used), are easy for hackers to exploit, which is why many cybersecurity experts recommend employees use passphrases. Passphrases are memorable phrases in which some words can be swapped out for numbers or symbols to meet common password requirements. “Take the first letters from the phrase ‘Jack and Jill went up a hill.’ Change the ‘and’ to an ‘&’ and the ‘a’ to ‘1’ and our password now becomes ‘J&Jwu1h.’” (LocalGovU, Computer Security Basics – Selecting a Secure Password).
Learn More Today!
Our online training platform LocalGovU has a one-hour Computer Security Basics course which walks employees through simple ways they can help protect their personal and organizational information, providing education from how to use a secured network or connection to creating strong and memorable passphrases.
Visit www.NDIRF.com and click on “Training” to get started today!