Cyber-security: Apps to keep your information safe

Maintaining physical security - alarms and locks - is critical for safety. So is cyber-security. Failure to establish strong computer security practices could be devastating to your business.

Image via Pixabay, CC 0.0.

WASHINGTON, December 10, 2016 – It seems that everyone from the Chinese to the Russians to your competitor down the street is now involved in some form of cybercrime or economic espionage.

Gaining a competitive advantage via computer access has become common practice, costing US businesses more than $445 billion a year, according to the FBI. And that number is galloping madly as companies switch to electronic file storage and electronic communication from paper documents.

What would your competitors find if they accessed your computer? If they obtained your password and started reading your email?

Maintaining physical security – alarms and locks – is critical for safety, and so is cyber-security. Failure to establish strong computer security practices could have devastating implications for your business.

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Luckily, there are some relatively simple and inexpensive (read: free) ways to keep your electronic communications secure.

Before you do anything else, check your browser. As cyber-guru and founder of PI Mall, Joe Seanor, explains, Google Chrome is the most secure browser. “Unlike other browsers, Chrome does ‘micro updates,’ which means it is constantly updating. Other browsers only update once a month. So if a bug or security vulnerability emerges, it is fixed on Chrome ASAP. With other browsers,  you have to wait for that once a month update to fix it.”

Another critical step to secure your information is to encrypt emails that contain anything sensitive or proprietary.

Programs like Hushmail, provide encrypted email service for personal and business use. Hushmail is a fairly straightforward program that encrypts communication and involves an interface much like other email programs. The advantage, obviously, is that email is secure. The disadvantage is that you have to log in to a separate email account to send and receive mail.

Virtru, on the other hand, allows seamless email encryption for Outlook and Gmail users. It uses outstanding encryption technology, and has a suite of services like controlling whether an email can be forwarded and allowing the sender to revoke an email even after it has been read. Even recipients who do not have Virtru can download a viewer and read email, and it provides simple prompts that make downloads, installation, and use easy.

Texting is second nature now, and many people text sensitive information without a second thought. Need to keep these conversations secure? There’s an app for that.

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For secure online chatting a-la Google chat, use Wickr. The program is simple to install and use, and allows users to share photos and videos securely. Wickr has a mobile app that you can use on smart phones and tablets, to keep those communications secure as well. To chat, however, the recipient must also have a Wickr account.

Another option for secure texts is Signal Private Messenger. If you are using Chrome, you can dowload it from the Chrome Store and send secure chatting on your computer. You can also add it to your smartphone, where you can not only text securely, but also have encrypted voice conversations. The only caveat is that like Wickr, the recipient also needs a Signal account.

Making Virtru and Signal standard operating procedure takes only a few minutes and a slight change of thought process, but it could save your company millions.

As hackers increase their capabilities, US companies will find themselves more and more vulnerable.

Don’t be the low hanging fruit. Employ smart cyber-security and keep your information safe.

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