Cyber Security Tips to Protect Your Small Business

by Sterling No Comments

The internet has certainly changed the world for the better. Small businesses are now able to access and share information in the blink of an eye. The opportunities for small businesses to take advantage of this technology are almost endless!

Unfortunately, there are also opportunities for hackers to take advantage of vulnerabilities in the technology. Every day a small business is hacked resulting in the loss or corruption of sensitive and valuable data or equipment.

So, what can be done to prevent a cyber-attack and protect your business? Here are 10 tips a small business can follow to help avoid becoming a cyber-attack victim.

  1. Stay Updated – one of the best defenses against hackers, malware and viruses is to keep all your computers updated. Make sure you are using the latest versions of software including web browsers, security software and operating systems.
  2. Build a Firewall – With a strong firewall, hackers and their malicious code will have a hard time getting to your computer and other hardware. A firewall is a security system that prevents unauthorized access to or from a private network. You can install a firewall in either hardware or software form, or a combination of both. If you have telecommuting employees, make sure they implement a firewall at home for their remote computers.
  3. Use Strong Passwords – If your username is Admin or User1 and your password is 1234 or abcd, then don’t be shocked to find out your computer network has been compromised by hackers. Make sure passwords are at least 8 characters long (longer the better), use both letters and numbers and include at least one special character such as an asterisk or exclamation point.
  4. Use a Secure WiFi Network – If your business uses a Wi-Fi network, ensure that it is secure, encrypted, and hidden. Use very strong passwords to gain access to the router. Hiding a WiFi is as easy as setting up your router or wireless broadcast equipment to not broadcast the name of the network. Choose to not show the Service Set Identifier (SSID).
  5. Educate and Train Employees – Set up clear policies and protocols on how employees are supposed to protect company computer equipment and data. It is a good idea to require password changes regularly. Also set guidelines on internet usage and make sure all employees know the consequences of not following the rules and guidelines.
  6. Restrict Physical Access to Server & Network Hardware – We all pray that we hire trustworthy people, but the simple fact is that a disgruntled employee could cause a lot of damage to equipment or theft of company data if given physical access to the server or network equipment. Company laptops that store sensitive data are also susceptible to theft. It is a good idea to lock them up whenever they are not being used.
  7. Backup Your Data – This step is often overlooked by smaller businesses yet it is crucial to protecting your data. Keeping an updated copy of your company and client information off-site can really prevent a nightmare scenario from happening. Imagine there was a fire or that hackers broke in and erased everything? If you have a backup stored in the cloud or on a physical drive in a safe location, then you can easily restore the data, at least up to the latest back-up date. Better to have lost only a few days than all of your company’s data.
  8. Limit Employee Access – Just like limiting their access to the physical equipment, we can also limit the access to data and software use within your business. No one person in your company should have admin access to everything. Give employees at all levels certain roles within the system and certain levels of access to data they need to perform their jobs. It is imperative that you closely manage anyone that can install software in your system.
  9. Protect Mobile Devices – Many of our staff, like technicians or salespeople, work out in the field. They often carry a mobile device to help them with their work. These devices often store important and sensitive data. Make sure all your company’s mobile devices require strong passwords to gain access. Make sure employees use encryption when sending and receiving data as well. There are also good apps available that can help make a mobile device less susceptible to hackers on public mobile networks.
  10. Use Secure Payment Software and Gateways – Credit card information is one of the most sought-after pieces of data on the Internet. Make sure you only use trusted institutions when setting up your payment gateways and credit card processing solutions. Website’s that accept online payments must also be kept updated with the latest security. Hackers are constantly trying to find a weakness in the system they can exploit. Software developers are doing everything they can to stay ahead of the bad guys, but it is a never-ending battle. If you want to know how devastating it is to compromise your customer’s credit card data, just ask Target.

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