As a proud graduate of the SOAR program, I was so grateful to have Sandra’s personal guidance when I was in the process of establishing the core values and commitments of my company, Way2Protect. “Taking action,” made the values list, and it wasn’t a surprise to me! I’m guessing it’s one of your values, both personally and in your business, because in my time as a Platinum Member of eWomenNetwork, I’ve found that taking action toward our dreams is a common trait. However, there is something that often gets in the way of action - no matter how much we may know or how motivated we might be. Can you guess what it is? Yes, you got it! It’s fear. Many of our fears are irrational and don’t serve us; however, fear can show up as protection when danger is evident. When it comes to tomorrow's technology, the danger is everywhere. My mission is to help women in business and women entrepreneurs become empowered to take charge of their technology.
When you have the awareness, the tools, and the know-how, you will take action to protect your family, your business, and your data. You will enjoy greater peace of mind - and you’ll be more productive (and profitable!). To get you started on your cyber journey, I’ll introduce you to the Cybemonsters. These fictitious characters represent the real people and organizations that are behind cyber attacks, identity theft, and cybercrime. Cybermonsters lurk in the cyber world and hide behind a keyboard with the intention to hurt, steal, and destroy everything you love and treasure. You know them as hackers, scammers, or cybercriminals, and I call them: CyCri-M0, HaKi-M0, NaSu-M0, and InSi-M0.
The 4 Cybermonsters You Need To Protect Your Business From
1. The CyCri-M0 - the Cyber Criminal Monsters
Cyber Criminal monsters operate like small businesses and other for-profit companies and large enterprises. Their product is your money and they have unique ways to source and obtain it. They employ skilled hackers and scammers to conduct their business or they purchase information once somebody else has stolen it. They even form partnerships to leverage each other’s technologies and do more harm.
2. The HaKi-M0 - the Hacktivist Monster
Hacktivism is the act of misusing a computer system, computer network, or computer data for political or social motives. Cybermonsters who practice hacktivism are known as hacktivists. The HaKi-M0’s goal is to disrupt or bring attention to a specific cause, as well as to humiliate and embarrass their victim- and financial gain is not their primary focus.
3. NaSu-M0, the Nation-State Monster
NaSu-M0 Cybermonsters are motivated by political, economic, technical, or military agendas. Nation-State Monsters use stolen intellectual property or valuable information hacked from companies and governments to build up their own businesses. Recently, NaSu-M0’s target has shifted toward individual consumers and small businesses because – just like other Cybermonsters – they look for vulnerable and easy entry points to steal critical data.
4. The InSi-M0, the Insider Cybermonster
InSi-M0 Cybermonsters could be anyone with legitimate access to your personal information or your business data: employees, former employees, contractors, vendors or business partners, or vengeful ex-spouses. The Insider Cybermonster could attack by accident, because of ignorance, due to negligence, or for a specific financial or malicious intent. InSi-Mo will misuse their access to your sensitive information and negatively affect you, your organization, or business operation. They may be involved with espionage, fraud, theft, or the disclosure of unauthorized information, sabotage of your systems, or operations.
7 Simple Steps To Protect Your Business From Cybermonsters
Now that you know the Cybermonsters, it’s time to take some simple steps to keep your business safe.
1. Start changing the passwords to your most sensitive accounts (banking, health information, retailers you frequently shop at), Make sure each account has a different password.
2. Turn on auto-updates and keep your devices, systems, apps, and websites updated to close the open holes Cybermonsters could exploit to enter your organization.
3. Avoid opening attachments or links you are unable to confirm as safe. Continue practicing mindfulness every day and don’t fall for the techniques Cybermonsters use to trick you.
4. Remove administrative rights from your employees’ computers. If Cybermonsters get access to your employees’ computers, your employees and your entire business will be at risk.
5. When a contractor, employee, or business partner is no longer part of your company, remove ALL their access to your computer, devices and data. This simple step can prevent many losses – and headaches.
6. Raising our level of awareness is a healthy way to protect ourselves. Create a list and identify your most sensitive and precious information and document who has access to it. Limit the access to information you truly care about.
7. Invest in Cybersecurity training for your employees so that protecting important data can become second nature to them. Having cyber-savvy and cyber-aware employees will reduce the chance of them being vulnerable.
If you’re already taking these steps - I’m proud of you and it’s time to think of what your next step could be as you move forward on your cyber safety journey. If you haven’t yet started to take any of these steps - I’m proud of you because you’re still reading, learning, and considering your first step to protect your business. You know the famous saying: “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. “These 7 steps may not feel simple right now, so I’m going to ask you, which of these feels doable? As the action taker that you are, I encourage you to commit to one thing. Every bit of progress counts! As a consultant and coach, I love that I get to walk this path with so many amazing women, as they go from cyber-scared and cyber-overwhelmed to cyber-savvy and cyber-confident. It is possible! Helping women in business and women entrepreneurs is my way to honor Sandra’s contribution to my own journey, and how I get to lift as I climb.
What is your next cyber step? Share with us in the comments below.
Sandra Estok is the founder of Way2Protect, International bestselling author of the award-winning Happily Ever Cyber! book series, and a Keynote Speaker and Corporate Trainer with over 20 years of experience in Cybersecurity, IT and Data Privacy.