Sometimes technology can be scary. Not in an “I’m afraid to try new things” way, but because for every wonderful thing that technology helps us to accomplish, it can be equally detrimental if you’re not careful. Now, I don’t for a second mean that we should turn in our cell phones and tablets, hide under a rock and cross our fingers that progress will just take a break. But we can safeguard ourselves and our businesses against the malevolence that seems to plague today’s digital landscape.
Here are a few safety tips for leveraging technology while still keeping your business and your personal information secure:
Once it’s online, it’s probably there to stay. Whenever I post something online, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, or even an email, I try to think about it from every possible angle. Can what I say be taken in a different way than I mean it? Have I thought about it from every possible angle? And most importantly, would I be comfortable with that post going on the front page of the New York Times? Take the recent plight of now former Microsoft Creative Director Adam Orth. As this article outlines, a well-intended war of words on Twitter lead to an unintended leak of information, resulting in Mr. Orth’s resignation from Microsoft. Now I know most people don’t have top secret information about the next big thing from Microsoft, but there are definitely things we just shouldn’t post on social media platforms. For example, if you have a business Facebook account, consider locking down your personal account. Your posts there may seem innocent enough to family and friends, but they could show you in a less than flattering light to a prospective customer.
Strong passwords. I know that if you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you’ll probably tire of hearing me talk about the importance of strong passwords, but I simply cannot emphasize it enough. You may have already read the story of Mat Honan and the hack of his online accounts that started as a break in to his Gmail accounts and turned into a landslide of digital catastrophe. If you haven’t read the original story or Mr. Honan’s follow up on how he recovered his lost information, I definitely recommend taking a look. There are quite a few lessons we can learn from his experience and if you haven’t guessed already, the importance of strong passwords is one of those lessons. For a refresher course on password protection, check out our previous blog post on the subject.
Back up everything. Another important lesson we can learn from Mat Honan’s digital disaster is that backing up our data regularly is a simple step we can all take to avoid losing something we might not be able to get back. Whether from personal computer with your family photos for the past 10 years or your pharmacy server that holds transaction history, AR balances and more, the loss of information can be devastating. No matter how well we protect ourselves, there’s always going to be risk, be that from online hackers or simple hardware failure. RMS POS systems can help you avoid this by being set to automatically perform a backup to a USB flash drive every night. Just rotate a couple of drives out and keep one with you and you’ll never have to worry about unrecoverable data from your POS system.
Keep your systems up to date: We can’t protect ourselves from every online danger, but we can reduce our risk. Anti-Virus software is a relatively inexpensive solution that can offer vital protection from online vulnerabilities. If you don’t have anti-virus currently installed, contact your POS provider immediately to make sure that you are covered. At RMS we can install, manage and support a robust anti-virus solution that we can provide you. If you do have anti-virus, make sure that you are performing scans and allowing updates to occur as needed. It’s also important to allow your computers to perform Windows updates as needed. If you choose to ignore the updates you could be opening your computer up to an attack.
Beware of suspicious links: One of the easiest ways to open yourself up to an online attack is by clicking on a link that isn’t what it appears to be. This increasingly popular type of attack is known as Phishing. Phishing is where an attacker pretends to be someone else and asks for personal or financial information, or prompts you to click on a link within the email. So if these attacks are hiding in plain sight, how can we identify them? Well first, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Financial institutions, cell phone companies etc. should never ask for your private information or password information via email. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t give the information to a stranger, you probably shouldn’t divulge it in an email. When it comes to links, a simple trick is to hover over the link with your mouse (don’t click!) and you’ll typically see the URL that the link actually goes to in the left hand corner of your task bar. If the URL is anything different than the link, that’s a good indicator that the email is fraudulent.
There’s never an easy one size fits all solution for online security but I hope these tips help you feel more secure. Don’t forget, when in doubt, you can always ask one of the experts at RMS! Just leave your comments and questions below.