The Equifax data breach might just do it.

Yahoo didn’t seem to do it.
Not Target.
Or Anthem Healthcare.

Will the Equifax data breach finally cause enterprise leaders to get serious about creating cultures of cybersecurity?  The Equifax data breach was caused by criminals exploiting a known software vulnerability running on Equifax machines and Equifax failed to patch those vulnerabilities.

What matters for freelancers is that until companies like Equifax begin making the tough calls to patch a vulnerability instead of just pray something bad doesn’t happen, we need to create our own cultures of cybersecurity.

We can value our cybersecurity and take action to fortify our defenses. As small business owners we have the power to do this. We can update our software now instead of click “Remind me later.” We can choose to backup our data now instead of hope something bad doesn’t happen. The Equifax timeline provides motivation:

March 7, 2017 – The software vulnerability was publicly announced that would ultimately affect Equifax (and patch provided within a week). Equifax did not implement the patch.

Mid- May – Equifax intrusions began (undetected)

July 29, 2017 – Equifax learns of data breach and begins investigating with help of unspecified cybersecurity firm

Sept 7, 2017 – Equifax publicly announces data breach

So the company failed to patch a known vulnerability that hackers have been aggressively exploiting. Equifax has multiple confirmed data breaches since at least 2013. Here are a few steps to take to begin creating a culture of cybersecurity.

What to Do

Implement a Credit Freeze

This will lock your credit profile from unauthorized access. Enact a credit freeze with at least the top three credit reporting bureaus.

Update your apps and systems

Make sure you keep your apps and operating systems up-to-date. Turn on automatic updates if possible. Enterprises like Equifax have to push out patches provided by the software vendor such as Microsoft and, in the case of this data breach, the Apache Foundation. You can ensure your programs are up to date and strengthen your cybersecurity in the process.

Create Your Own Culture Of Cybersecurity

Start making cybersecurity part of your daily routine. Assume that unknown and suspicious emails and links are fraudulent. Verify links before clicking them. Be more guarded with your personal information. Value your privacy and data and take steps to protect it.