The Equifax breach led to roughly 143 million accounts being compromised, with user data invariably being traded on the black market.
The Facebook hacks have led to millions of users’ account data being shared.
The recent Capital One breach led to more than 100 million U.S. and Canadian accounts being compromised, as almost everyone who had applied for or received a Capital One credit card between 2005 and 2014 now had sensitive information floating out in the digital ether.
And the list goes on.
With hacks, data breaches, and intellectual property theft both on the rise – and achieving levels almost never previously dreamt of before – it’s a good idea to look into what your business can do to keep its information secure. And while no cloud-based service, be it Amazon’s Amazon Web Services, Apple’s iCloud, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Box, or any other provider can claim it will never be breached, it’s important to keep your local machines secure where possible.
Here are some tools that have fared well, are relied upon by veteran IT staffers, and are readily affordable to almost any business looking to protect its information:
Malwarebytes (www.malwarebytes.com): One of the simplest and best anti-malware tools anywhere, Malwarebytes can be easily downloaded, installed, and features an effective monitoring feature that scans downloads on the fly for viruses and malware. The program comes with a 14-day free trial and annual subscription rates start at $39.99 per year for a single Mac, Windows, Android, or Chromebook computer or device. Pricing plans can be found at www.malwarebytes.com/pricing/ and it’s worth the annual subscription fee.
Windows Defender: This arrives with Windows 10 and where IT professionals used to scoff at the feature in years (and Windows versions) past, it’s gotten immensely better. And it’s free, which nobody can argue with. Simply keep your copy of Windows 10 updated via the Update setting regularly, even if it means chewing through dozens of previous updates, make sure you’re entirely up to date, and Windows Defender will do the rest. It’s bare bones, but it does prevent much of malware and exploits from slipping through, which is the first step to keeping your data secure.
Use an cloud email provider: This is where you can put larger companies’ R&D budget to use for your benefit. Some malware attacks come through email attachments and links to malicious websites. Apple’s iCloud, Google’s Gmail and Microsoft’s Office 365 presently channel a fair amount of time, energy, and funding into anti-spam and anti-malware and protection through their email systems.
Use Devices: Another means of using Apple and/or Google’s security budget to your end is to check emails on an iPhone, iPad, or Android-based device. Users can get their email through the email client of their choice on the device, and the security layers generally prevent spam and malware from slipping through and activating. Just remember to keep your devices updated (you can turn on auto updating to achieve this) and you’ll be good to go.
External Drives and Backup Services: Always have a backup. For the price of a $40 hard drive from Amazon, Best Buy or Fry’s, you can easily snag an external USB hard drive that you can then configure as a local backup drive in case things go south with your computer. For a variable subscription price per month, you can easily back up your data to services such as Dropbox, Box, Microsoft’s OneDrive, Apple’s iCloud, and Google Drive. Services back up your data throughout the day.
Erase hard drives when you’re done with them: More than anything, you don’t want your data hanging around on a hard drive once you’re done with the computer or device. Darik’s Boot and Nuke (www.dban.org) effectively destroys all information from hard drives and makes that data as unrecoverable as humanly possible. The DBAN software is available for free for personal use, while the Blancco Drive Eraser (www.blancco.com) is intended for enterprise level use, supports more erasure standards, offers technical support, and is available as a free trial with the full product available at different price points.