10 Ways Contractors Can Protect Their Company from Hackers and Cyber Attacks

April 13, 2021
Alarms and Security, Elevators, General, HVAC, Mobility & Devices
7 min read

If you work in the field service industry, you are accustomed with the usual risks involved in construction. Many field service company owners, however, do not consider the dangers that could lurk in their inboxes.

Take this scenario, for example:

One of your clients sends you an email to confirm an invoice has been paid. But you never sent an invoice. He forwards you an emailed invoice that looks like it came from you. How can that be? You check your sent mail and confirm with team members that no invoice was sent. Then you notice the account number isn’t yours and you don’t recognize the information.

What happened? Your system has been hacked and your client just sent money to the hacker. Your client will likely never get the money back, and now one of your biggest clients is worried that your security measures are inadequate.

Unfortunately, this is a real story that is happening frequently with companies being forced to practice remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, the cybersecurity industry has faced numerous challenges, including company equipment, devices, and data that suddenly left the safety of corporate headquarters. In the meantime, home offices have turned into unsecured and vulnerable parts of the corporate network.

Almost as soon as work-from-home began, security researchers started seeing increasing amounts of phishing emails enticing people to open them by using pandemic themes. More recently, analysts have noticed an increase in malicious emails and domains that are using false information about vaccines to get victims to click.

Malicious users can gain access to a company’s data in several ways, including phishing, a method which takes advantage of unsuspecting employees as a gateway.

However, there are also a number of ways companies can protect themselves and their data from such attacks.

1. Educate Your Team

It is vital to continuously communicate and train your team in cyber security risk prevention. It only takes one compromised phishing incident in order to cause damage. However, you can educate your workers before an incident happens so they can learn from you, and not their mistakes. Holding routine meetings in order to train your employees how to detect what a phishing attack may look like prepares your team prior to a breach. It is important your workers understand the consequences of cyber attacks as it can negatively affect the company’s public standing, but also expose vital client information, resulting in the loss of customers.

2. Install an Anti-Phishing Toolbar

Another way to protect against phishing is to use an anti-phishing toolbar. Phishing sites often use domains that look similar and resemble common online sites your company may be using. An anti-phishing toolbar is a web browser extension that verifies everything that you click on immediately and blocks any potential risk or threat. This is a great way to ensure that information and data is protected no matter what site you visit.

3. Make New Passwords Regularly

Regularly changing your passwords is one of the most successful ways to defend against cyber attacks. This is because a hacker might try to gain access to your account multiple times over a longer period. Changing your password reduces the risk that they will have frequent access.

4. Use a Different Password for Each Account

Never use the same password for all your accounts. When you use the exact same password for multiple accounts, you open yourself up to a credential stuffing attack. All a hacker needs is your information from one poorly defended site and they can quickly access any other account where you use the same login information.

5. Keep Your Software Up to Date

A simple yet effective method that many businesses fail to consider is to merely update their software. This includes any program you use. Software and technology companies are constantly adding security practices to their products that go live once it is updated. You can simply choose to auto-update all your solutions. This is beneficial as you can set it and forget it. You also have the option to update manually if you prefer it, but the main point is to stay on top of these updates for your entire suite of tools in order to keep your data safe from hackers.

6. Utilize Multi-Factor Authentication

A great way to keep your company safe from cyber attacks is to implement multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication is an electronic authentication method that requires the user to provide two or more forms of identity verification before they are allowed access to a website, network, or application. This can include a password, pin, fingerprint, retina scan and more. Using this strategy to stop hackers is effective as they would most likely not have access to the secondary device and not pass the other checkpoints.

7. Triple Check Before You Install or Download Software

Cyber hackers often create applications and software that look reliable but are in fact not. When you install them on your computer, you are in reality installing malware to your device that can create a lot of damage. It is important to be cautious and thoroughly investigate reviews before you download anything.

8. Use A Password Management Tool

A password management tool can help ensure the security of your information. A strong password management tool auto-populates complex passwords that are the most unlikely to get hacked. It encrypts your username, email, and password so that it can’t be accessed by outside parties.

9. Restrict Employee Access to Delicate Information

Many times, susceptible systems and information are exposed to the wrong people. To lessen your chances of a system breach, you should only give access to the most trusted team members and ensure that all accounts for employees leaving the organization are deleted once they have left. If you do not take the right precautions, you may be letting an unhappy outgoing employee jeopardize sensitive documents.

10. Avoid Unsecure Public Wi-Fi Connections/Use a Business VPN to Create a Private Network

Hackers often try to carry out something called a Man in the Middle (MITM) attack. This type of attack occurs when the hacker attempts to gain access to a network connection to intercept the transfers between two parties, and potentially obtain files or information between them. Therefore, in order to mitigate the risk of a MITM attack, it is suggested you avoid unsecure public Wi-Fi connections like that in coffee shops or fast-food hotspots. Instead, in this type of situation, use a cellular or private hotspot.

But most importantly, contracting businesses must use a VPN and encrypted email to create a private network for your employees to safely communicate. A business VPN puts all workers and building sites inside a secure software-defined perimeter, which safely protects you from outside threats. With a VPN, you can protect any number of devices connected to your network. As well, connecting smart sensors to a VPN will hide the network and protect it against cyber attacks.

Lead by Example

Cybersecurity attacks are making headlines these days, and the field service industry is not immune. For some field service companies, recent ransomware attacks have led to the loss of confidential data or a systems shutdown. Cyber attacks can take many forms, and as they adopt more technological solutions, contracting companies need to prepare to defend themselves.

Although cyber attacks may never be avoided completely, a contractor that is well prepared and educated about the subject will be in a better position to reduce the possible damage and loss of these attacks.

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