Keep Your Business Secure During National Internet Safety Month - And Beyond

06/14/2016 02:16 pm ET Updated Jun 14, 2017

June is National Internet Safety Month, an initiative introduced back in 2005 to raise awareness around the need for online safety. While cyber security should be top-of-mind for businesses year-round, now is the perfect time to remind employees of their role in protecting company data. In honor of Internet Safety Month, let's take a look at some of the things employees can do to help keep their business secure.

Embrace automatic software updates
Often times, software updates are released to address known security vulnerabilities, and these patches can be critical in keeping devices secure. No piece of software is perfect, but with constant monitoring and updating, you can ensure your system is protected against the most common viruses and malware online. The next time you receive an update notification, click yes, or set your system to update automatically.

Stay secure on the go
For many of us, our jobs require travel. However, staying connected while on the go can leave you and your business at risk. Here are a few simple, yet important, things to remember.

Avoid using public Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet. If you need to transmit personal information, company data or make a purchase, be sure to use a secure, virtual private network (VPN). If a VPN is unavailable, turn your phone into a personal hotspot. Check to see that all sites you visit, particularly if you're sharing sensitive information, have an "https" web address. That means there is an extra layer of security.

Practice secure password habits
Many online attacks come down to one thing: poor passwords practices. Employees often reuse the same email and password combinations across multiple sites and company logins, unknowingly increasing the risk of data compromise for themselves and their company.

So what can you do? Create unique passwords for each site you use. It's also good practice to create long and strong passwords by using a cryptic combinations of letters and numbers. Consider implementing two-factor authentication on your online accounts, if possible. Adding this additional step in your login procedure can go a long way in maintaining your security.

Think before you click
Most employees know not to click on suspicious links in emails. However, email phishing scams are becoming more sophisticated, and cyber criminals cast a wide net. They may send an email under the guise of a friend or colleague, duping the individual to click on a malicious link. Suddenly, your computer is infected with malware. If your device has sensitive company information on it, this could become an organization-wide issue.

Even with a sender you know, if anything at all seems off with their message, contact them directly. That doesn't mean clicking "reply," it means picking up the phone and calling them to confirm they actually sent the email. It's better to be a minor nuisance than risk harming your computer or company. And again, if you are keeping your systems current with the latest security updates and patches, you'll be better protected against these kinds of attacks.

Remember, these practices should be exercised regularly and diligently to maintain security. The National Cyber Security Alliance is a partner of National Internet Safety Month, and a good resource for cyber security best practices to keep your company secure, this month, and every month.