Cyber attacks are a scary reality for many companies as well as for individual users. Regardless of the individual victim or size of the organization affected, the severe impact and potential threat hackers present is enough to scare most of us. So with data breaches occurring more frequently every day, the mistake of not having an emergency counterattack plan in place can prove problematic. Both individuals and businesses should take necessary precautions to ensure their data is secure and protected from looming hackers. The following are critical tips you can put in place to prevent cyber attacks.

Understand Risks: Know the internal and external vulnerabilities you or your business face as they relate to hackers. By understanding how a hacker can gain entry to your system, you can identify points of weakness. Your best defense is to stay informed of the various cyber fraud schemes and threats — for example, phishing emails, malware and system hacking. Participate in seminars and security courses to stay abreast of changing cyber concerns and share learned information with others.

Encrypt Data: From banking information to social security numbers, hackers seek out important data. For sensitive data, file encryption is critical in maintaining security in your systems. Keep your information safe by turning to full-disk encryption tools, which are often standard with most operating systems. By switching the encryptions of these devices on, you can encrypt every file on your drive without slowing it down. This process typically takes only a matter of minutes, so it’s a quick and easy means to security.

Secure Your Hardware: Not all cyber attacks are performed through computer systems. Stolen electronic devices and equipment can fall victim to cyber attacks. Keeping computer devices locked down will help ensure information security. For businesses, locking office buildings and requiring security authentication can prove effective in protecting from equipment theft. For companies that have on-site servers, it’s important to secure server room doors with locks and practice regular security checks.

Advocate Security Awareness: In leading by example and demonstrating the proper approach to data security, you are far more likely to increase information safety both at work and at home. People need to be aware of the dangers present in cyber use today in order to help protect their data from a security breach. Be a leader and advocate for secure practices on individual devices as well as within professional organizations by sharing information with others. Offer tips on what to look for with friends, family and coworkers when browsing online.

Cyber attacks are a very real threat today. However, when you remain vigilant and take a few extra steps to provide security, you can help to keep yourself and your business safe.