The rapid expansion of technology has resulted in countless benefits that have made our lives much simpler – these days, we can ask a personal AI assistant (think Google Home or Alexa) to tell us “what our day looks like” while we get ready, have our groceries delivered within a few hours… the list goes on. However, like with most things, there are some definite cons that come along with the development of more sophisticated technologies, one of which being a rise in cybercrime. And, unfortunately, cybercrime (phishing, ransomware, malware, identity theft, etc.) tactics are also becoming more sophisticated alongside our new tech.
Although we take extensive security precautions and use the best encryption technology available at Summit Hosting, total data security is a joint effort between us (your trusted cloud hosting provider) and you / your users. With this in mind, it’s important to stay informed on data security best practices so you can take extra steps to ensure you are doing everything you can to protect your critical data from hackers and scammers.
Below, we’ve listed a few easy things you can do to help keep your data safe.
Quick and Easy Ways to Protect Your Data
1. Only use strong, unique passwords.
Okay, we’re sure you’ve heard this a thousand times, but according to a consumer account security report, 73% of online accounts are guarded by duplicated passwords. Most people use the same password, or a slight variation, for numerous accounts because it’s easier to remember. However, this is a huge no-no because if a hacker figures out your password and you happen to use the same one for multiple accounts, they now have easy access to most, if not all, of your data.
Instead of using duplicate passwords or ones that are easier to remember, generate strong passwords with 8+ characters (consisting of a mix of uppercase / lowercase letters and symbols) and use a verified, secure password manager, like LastPass.
2. Install operating system and software updates.
We know it’s tempting to hit “remind me tonight” when an operating system or program update pops up – those always seem to happen at the most inconvenient times, no? – but you shouldn’t delay in installing these updates. Why? Software updates are crucial to maintaining your data’s safety as well as cyber security.
Software updates provide numerous benefits such as new features, improving existing features, bug fixes and, most importantly, patches for security flaws. Hackers are known for finding and exploiting even the smallest security weaknesses in software so they can steal your personal and company data. All in all, these routine updates generally only take a few minutes to install unless they’ve piled up because you’ve been putting them off.
So, what are you waiting for? Bookmark this data security blog in your browser, save the files you’re currently working on and run those updates – this article will still be here for you to finish after those potential bug fixes and security patches are installed.
3. Use 2-factor authentication.
Adding 2-factor authentication is an easy way to add an extra layer of security at sign in. 2FA is designed to prevent unauthorized access to your account by informing you when an unrecognized device or one tied to an unfamiliar origin (i.e. you’re based in New York City but the unfamiliar device is located in Munich) attempts to login to your account. 2FA sends a verification code, typically to your registered mobile device, that will grant you login access should you input it where prompted. This extra step makes it exceedingly difficult for hackers to successful login to your account if they have acquired your password.
4. Never open or download files from unknown sources.
You wouldn’t accept and open a package a stranger tries to hand you on the street, right? Just like you shouldn’t accept something from someone you don’t know in person, you shouldn’t open or download a file sent to you from an untrusted user or account. This is an easy way to infect your email or device with malware that’ll steal your data and spread like wildfire through your contacts and user accounts.
You should also keep this in mind for websites you visit – don’t download files or access websites that are not trusted, look spammy or have an unusual looking URL.
5. Watch out for impersonators.
Recently, there has been a rise in scammers impersonating people you know, specifically other employees where you work. When this happens, scammers will use a disposable email (i.e. CEOipad@yahoo.com or firstname.lastname@example.org), set the first + last name as someone you work with and typically task you with an URGENT REQUEST – like sending information they need RIGHT NOW, such as $200 Amazon gift card codes. They’ll then bombard you with emails expressing the extreme urgency of this task in the hopes that you: A. won’t double-check the email or signature, B. have time to think about it being a suspicious request and C. stress out so much with your boss “yelling” at you to complete this task ASAP that you just send over the goods, no questions asked.
Alternative scenario: a scammer will pose as a new member of your company and say INSERT CEO / UPPER MANAGEMENT NAME HERE asked them to get in touch with you to complete whatever URGENT TASK.
If this ever happens to you, it’s always a good idea to cross-check the sender’s email with one you already have on file and call the sender to confirm the request; or contact whoever supposedly asked the sender to reach out to you. Better to be safe than sorry, right?
6. Backup your data.
One of the most overlooked ways to protect your data is to make copies of it. Routinely backing up your data to an external drive or the cloud ensures that you’ll still have access to your data in case your account (or device) is compromised, lost or stolen.
Our engineers backup each customer’s dedicated cloud server nightly and retain these copies for 15 days. Although we create duplicates of your hosted QuickBooks, Sage or other managed application data and keep these copies safely tucked away in a secure US or Canadian data center, we always recommend you maintain backups as well. After all, it never hurts to have a few copies on hand, and they can be created in a matter of minutes.
7. Log out of your account whenever you step away from your device.
Okay, sure, it can be a little annoying to have to log back into your account whenever you pause for a water break BUT this simple step could prevent someone (maybe a visitor to your office for the day?) from snagging important business or personal information.
Secure Cloud Hosting Solutions
At Summit Hosting, we take data protection very seriously, and we believe you should too. In addition to using the best encryption technology to provide the highest level of protection possible, we are:
- SSAE18 certified
- PCI compliant
We also use solid state drives for storage and keep all of our hardware in ultra-secure physical data centers. In addition, we’re happy to handle all server operating system updates for our customers so you don’t have to worry about maintaining your dedicated server – just ask!
If you have any questions about our dedicated cloud hosting solutions or would like to learn more about what you can do to help keep your data secure, reach out to a hosting specialist! Call 888-244-6559 today or drop us a note here.