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6 incredibly simple ways to avoid online scams

If the largest companies in the world are easily hacked and infiltrated by cyber threats, where does that leave you as a small to medium business?

Or maybe you don’t think you’re playing in the same league – who’d want your data anyway?

But that’s where you’d be wrong. All companies are a target of online scams, threats, and hackers, and it’s really only a matter of time before you’re next.

However, that doesn’t mean you have to become a helpless victim. Here are a few strategies to keep your company safe online.

Offer cybersecurity training

One of the most effective ways to avoid online scams is to educate yourself and your employees on cybersecurity best practices. This doesn’t mean you need to become an IT security professional — but understanding the basics can go a long way.

Teach your staff about common threats like phishing, social engineering, and ransomware, and you’ll give your team the ammo needed to remain secure online.

There are a variety of ways to pull this off. You can send out weekly cybersecurity newsletters to your staff, offer quarterly team huddles, or partner with an IT company that can provide hands-on training.

Related: Email spoofing 101

Check user account permissions

What permissions are given out and who has access to what within your company? If you’re trying to avoid data loss, cyber threats, and the lot, this is a very important question to ask yourself.

The principle of least privilege is an IT concept that only gives each user exactly what they need to do their jobs. No more, no less. You can adjust permissions based on the person’s responsibilities and roles over time, but you don’t want to start someone out with access to more than they need.

The less data an employee has access to, the less data that person can lose, corrupt, or send off to the wrong person.

Related: 3 real-world examples of data loss

Implement vendor management

Your external partners may need access to certain systems, but they’re just as vulnerable to cyber threats as you are.

If your vendors are given unmonitored access to your systems and data, they could end up being the source of a data breach. Make sure your vendors are included in your cybersecurity strategy and do what you can to monitor and restrict their access to your network.

Related: 5 crucial components for a successful network security policy

Control file sharing

Use group policies to prevent files from being moved arbitrarily around the network. You want to make sure that files and assets in your business are contained in specific and secure storage locations.

You don’t want your employees to have critical files on their personal cloud accounts or somewhere inside their personal inbox. That’s an easy way to lose data or to have it intercepted by a malicious third party.

Related: 5 quick tips to help you create strong passwords

Audit user accounts

You need a system in place that details user account management. This should include everything from routine audits to step-by-step processes on when, where, and how to remove access to an account.

This is especially critical when an employee is terminated. You never know what a person is capable of – which makes it important to remove access as quickly as possible.

Verify all information

Whenever someone calls you or sends you an email asking for sensitive information, do what you can to verify the request before taking an action.

For example, if a supposed vendor calls you up and starts asking for login information over the phone, hang up and call the contact number you have for that vendor. Phone spoofing is a big problem, and it’s easy to assume that the caller is legitimate in a situation like this.

It might require a few extra minutes to verify information, but it’s better to be safe than data-less.

There’s more to online scams

It’s difficult to account for all the ways that scammers and hackers can use to break into your business systems and compromise your devices. But when you cover these basics, you can make it much more difficult to become a victim of a scam or a data breach. Knock out the lowest-common denominator attacks and you can better prepare yourself for more sophisticated ones.