As an administrative professional, much of your work is done online, which means you have access to a lot of sensitive information. In your hands, this information is safe. However, if someone else gets ahold of it, the consequences can be devastating to your executive, clients, organization, and your career.
Plenty of people think cybersecurity is a job for their IT department, and while that’s true, you’re also part of the first line of defense against hacks, phishing scams, and other cybercrimes. Following these simple steps will help you keep private information safe, and protect yourself and your company.
1. Don’t Use Unsecured Wi-Fi Connections. There’s no denying the convenience of public Wi-Fi. The ability to look over the expense reports while enjoying a cup of coffee at your favorite café or check your email as you wait for your plane to board is a benefit of living in the 21st century, right?
Wrong. Unsecured Wi-Fi connections put you at a huge risk of having your information stolen. Because it doesn’t require a password, it’s all too easy for hackers to gain access to your banking information, passwords, classified documents, or even your personal videos or photos.
If you must use a public Wi-Fi connection, make sure you employ a VPN (virtual private network). A VPN encrypts your data, making it useless to someone who wants to steal it. You can learn more about VPNs and how to set them up here.
2. Use Two-Factor Authentication. Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts. The process takes something you know (such as a user name and password) and combines it with something you have (your smartphone, for instance).
Once you log in to your account, two-factor authentication will send a code to your phone or email. When you enter the correct code, you’re granted access. This ensures that even if someone gains access to your password, they still won’t be able to get in.
It’s an extra step, but the extra five seconds it takes is worth it to keep your information safe!
3. Create Strong Passwords. If you’re like most people, you probably have several, if not dozens, of passwords to remember, and trying to keep them straight can be difficult. This is why many people use common words, phrases, or numbers that are easy to remember.
But using just the name of your spouse, children, or pets is dangerous. So is using your birthday, sequential numbers, or generic phrases like “password.” The reason? It’s easy for someone to use information they find about you online to try and crack your code.
Password managers like LastPass or Dashlane can help. Your credentials are stored securely, and these sites can help you create ridiculously complex passwords (that you don’t have to remember) in seconds. They’re also useful in ensuring that you don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.
4. Be Wary of Unfamiliar Links or Attachments. Like most admins, you probably get hundreds of emails a day. It’s probably habit to see an attachment and download it, or click on a link that your colleague supposedly sent you.
Except that attachment may be a virus. And that link may not have come from your colleague. In fact, they may be a victim of a hack or phishing scam that gave a hacker access to their account, and you’re the next target.
Make sure you trust the sender before you click on links or attachments, and use a software program that scans attachments before you open them. If you’re suspicious of an attachment or link, just ask the person who sent it.
5. Lock Your Computer. This is one of the easiest and best ways to keep yourself safe. An unlocked computer can spell disaster. You may trust your office mates, but what about the maintenance staff, a coworker’s visitor, or someone walking through the office on their way to use the restroom?
Any time you’re away from your desk, your computer should be locked – even if it’s just a quick trip to the breakroom. It doesn’t take long to log out and log back in, and leaving it unsecured is a gamble you can’t afford to take.
Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility. The more proactive you and your colleagues are about protecting yourselves and your company online, the less likely you are to be a victim of cybercrime.
How seriously does your office take cybersecurity? Let us know at AdminSuccess@AllThingsAdmin.com!
Looking for more cybersecurity tips? This month’s AdminPro Training Series has some amazing information on how to keep yourself, your executive, and your company safe. Learn more and register for the October session here.
© 2017 Julie Perrine International, LLC
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity. And request your free copy of our special report “From Reactive to Proactive: Creating Your Strategic Administrative Career Plan” at www.AllThingsAdmin.com.