Does this mean me?
As an executive, cybersecurity must be one of your primary concerns. After all, your role makes you the juiciest target for cyber criminals. You have access to the most sensitive information in your organization, and you likely have some forms of remote access to core company systems. Compromising your account is the holy grail for cyber criminals. With great power comes great responsibility and one of the most important responsibilities you have is to protect your company’s assets and sensitive information.
That’s why it’s essential to develop and maintain good security habits. Here are a few habits that every executive should have to keep their company and personal information safe:
1. Keep Passwords Strong and Secure
One of the most basic security habits you can adopt is to keep your passwords strong and secure. Weak or easily guessable passwords can be cracked or guessed by hackers, giving them access to your company’s sensitive information.
To create strong and unique passwords, use a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using common words or easily guessable information, such as your name or birth date. And don’t reuse the same password for multiple accounts – if one password is compromised, all of your accounts are at risk. It is also important to make sure your passwords are of sufficient length. Gone are the days of eight character passwords being the standard.
Admittedly following all the guidelines for password complexity can be onerous. This is where password managers really shine. Password management software allows you to create, manage, and keep track of unique strong passwords even when you are in a hurry. In today’s world we are often prompted to create accounts at a moment when we are least prepared to generate a secure password. In those cases we may be tempted to set a less secure password, or to reuse a password. Password management software allows us to create a complex password rapidly. This password will be saved in your password vault to let you easily access services with saved passwords.
2. Be Careful with Email and Social Media
Phishing scams and social engineering are two of the most common ways that hackers gain access to sensitive information. They often rely on tricking you into providing personal information or clicking on a malicious link.
To avoid falling victim to these scams, be cautious about opening emails or clicking on links from unknown sources. Be especially wary of emails that ask for personal information or that contain spelling and grammar errors.
Remember that criminals ultimate goal is to gain access to the account of a stakeholder or business leader, but their interim goal (something they need to achieve this) may be to gain access to your social media account which will allow them to impersonate you
3. Use Two Factor Authentication
Two factor authentication (2FA) is the process of asking the user for a secondary piece of private information to confirm their identity after they have entered a valid password. This is no longer optional for email and social media accounts. Most IT departments and MSP are mandating 2FA, but senior leaders must make it a habit to enable it wherever it is optional. This adds an extra layer of security, making it much more difficult for hackers to gain access to your accounts.
4. Be Careful With Public WiFi
Public Wi-Fi networks can be convenient, but they’re also a major security risk. Hackers can easily purchase a $30 device to up set up fake Wi-Fi networks (Evil Twin) that look legitimate, tricking you into connecting and giving them access to your device and sensitive documents.
To stay safe from cyber attacks on public Wi-Fi, avoid connecting to networks that don’t have a password or that you’re not familiar with. And never access sensitive information (like your bank account) while connected to a public Wi-Fi network.
A good habit to adopt is to use a virtual private network (VPN) when connected to public Wi-Fi networks. A VPN encrypts your internet connection, making it much more difficult for hackers to intercept and steal your information.
5. Educate Yourself and Your Team
Finally, one of the most important security habits you can adopt is to educate yourself and your team about the latest security threats and trends. The security landscape is constantly changing, and new threats are emerging all the time so training is essential. Use your internal IT resources your MSP, or a cybersecurity expert to host cybersecurity discussions that deals with spear phishing attempts, and security measures that are specific to your company.
6. Include Home Networks Dangers
In the spring of 2020 when the world fell into the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic business leaders turned to remote work as a solution to staying safe and staying productive. Even though the intensity of the pandemic as waned somewhat corporate work from home programs continue. Home networks are a key vulnerability for attackers so it is essential that they not be overlooked. A study that looked into how cyber criminals were using changes related to the pandemic found distinct changes in the type and frequency of these attacks since spring 2020. In the case of phishing attacks another study found that, “phishing attacks had increased by 350% since the outbreak of the pandemic:. Adopting a practice of using endpoint security software to protect c suite executives from attacks that may originate from a compromised home network is essential.
This is not an exhaustive list but it does represent the foundation of a sound cybersecurity initiative. Securing the C-Suite is crucial for the overall security of an organization. By implementing these five essential security habits for executives, leaders can set a strong foundation for protecting sensitive data and preventing a data breach. Keeping passwords strong and secure, using two factor authentication, and fostering a culture of security by staying informed can help mitigate risks and keep the organization safe from cyber risks. It is important for executives to take ownership of their role in security and lead by example to ensure that the entire organization is working together to protect against cyber threats.