When you leave your business at the end of the day, you make sure the door is locked and valuables are secure. Do you do the same with your online accounts?

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, organized by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security 13 years ago.

The month-long awareness campaign hopes to empower individuals to be safer and more secure online.

A big part of this year’s event is the Lock Down Your Login initiative from the White House and NCSA. Although 72 percent of Americans believe their online accounts are secure with usernames and passwords, there’s actually another victim of identity fraud every two seconds.

Start using strong authentication

The campaign encourages strong authentication using multi-factor or two-factor authentication. With strong authentication, the action of logging in with your username and password is joined with the added security of a biometric element (such as a fingerprint), a security key that plugs into your USB port or a code generated for one-time use.

It might sound complicated, but services from Google to Twitter and even your local bank offer two-step authentication methods. If you already use your fingerprint to unlock your smartphone, it’s just as easy to set up strong authentication for other accounts.

Review your business cyber security policy

Once you’ve secured your personal accounts, it’s time to shore up your online business assets. Cybercriminals don’t target the biggest companies — they’ll go after anyone and everyone in hope of a successful breach. 

Take time to create or update your business cyber security policy. Your policy might include rules for downloading apps onto company devices, guidelines for employees using their own devices at work, or procedure to follow if someone in your company notices suspicious online activity. Reviewing your policies along with cyber security tips can refresh your team’s memory and provide opportunities to keep your policy updated to cover new trends and tools.

Of course, creating and protecting secure passwords is a huge part of any business cyber security plan. Did you know that 43 percent of people with access to company passwords don’t have a clause in their contract that requires them to protect these passwords? Despite a growing number of threats, many business owners assume their data is safe.

Securing your online data can seem like a daunting task. Encourage employees to create a different password for every login they use, and consider using a secure password-storage service like LastPass, Dashlane, LogeMeOnce or Zoho Vault to manage these passwords. Then, start conversations about email safety, malware and various other threats your team may encounter.

Looking for warning signs of cyber crime? Watch our on-demand webinar, Cyber Crime 101. Then meet with a SCORE mentor to review your company cyber security policy.

About the Author(s)

Bridget Weston Pollack

Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing & Strategy at the SCORE Association.

Vice President of Marketing & Strategy, SCORE