You’re a business owner. You spend your days in a flurry of meetings, paperwork, computer files, and phone calls. You worry about revenue growth, client retention, and whether or not your in-laws are coming to town during the closing week of your big business deal. More than likely, you are also worry about cyber-attacks.
The year 2012 saw the largest increase in fraud and cyber-attacks in internet history and according to Symantec reports, this 42% increase only climbs up and up and up. Business owners face losing financial information, client sensitive data, possible lawsuits, and revenue losses from service interruptions and theft.
Knowing this, it’s understandable that over 94% of business owners admit to worrying about being next on the cyber hit list, according to a recent survey released by the National Small Business Association. Even businesses with external accounting services can still carry heavy losses from a cyber-attack. Rather than worry, however, there are ways that you can help to reduce your risk of being the easy target.
Implement Strict Internal Policies:
Having a password is a step in the right direction, but are you changing it regularly? Is it a complex password with numbers, capitals, and special characters? Ensuring that your passwords (and all of your employees passwords) are regularly changed diminish the likelihood of someone cracking your ‘code’.
Passwords should be changed on average once every month, or every three weeks. It’s also inadvisable to keep copies of your passwords written down which can be easily stolen. Set reminders in your computer or your phone when it’s time for you and your staff to change your passwords.
In addition, provide clear policies for employees regarding types of programs and applications they are free to use, as well as restriction of downloads from the internet, and how to securely access Wi-Fi. Keeping these policies clear in everyone’s mind will help lower the risk of any hacker making it through your front lines.
Keep Sensitive Data Private:
If there’s a set of documents that hold sensitive information, such as those related to your finances, keep them in secured files. Protect your data by restricting the number of eyes that see the information. For example, you don’t leave your browser open if it’s logged in to your bank account. You don’t provide an exhaustive list of passwords to access all data to every new employee. Remember too, if an employee leaves, ensure that all their access within your business is cut off.
Back Up Your Data:
If you’re concerned about losing valuable data due to a hacker bombing all your firewalls, take the initiative and back it all up. Financial, legal and client information should be backed up regularly. Ideally, your IT team can run processes that will backup your information automatically so that a moment of forgetfulness doesn’t cost thousands of dollars.
Programs such as the Cloud can help smaller businesses back up their files in a safe place as well, but remember even here we are vulnerable to cyber-attack. Cloud-storage still leaves you partially responsible for your data, however, so make sure you fully understand what package and protection you are obtaining for your files or for the files of your client.
Update/Upgrade Security Systems:
Having a antivirus software from 2001 is about as effective as having none at all. In fact, having a security system from 2012 is probably too old to give much protection either. With how quickly technology progresses not only from year to year (even from month to month), it is vital that you take the time to update all your security systems. It’s easy to ignore those pop-up boxes reminding you of a new update to your system, but make a decided effort to keep your security current.
Promote Awareness Among Employees:
All the prevention in the world on your part won’t make a bit of difference if your employees aren’t taking security seriously. It’s an unfortunate fact that data breaches are often caused by employees. This usually happens due to an employee navigating to sites infected with malware, downloading attachments or files infected with a virus, or accessing Wi-Fi from an insecure location. If you take the time to educate your employees on the dangers of these actions, good employees will respect the rules out of a desire to protect your business, and ultimately, their jobs.
Businesses that function with their staff being on the road or on the go, with loads of company information stored in laptops or in mobile phones or tablets, it’s even more important for you to develop policies about how they use their technology. Many companies require that any mobile phone that is used for company work must have a security lock and passwords to enter any work related files.
Fixing the CyberSecurity Issue:
Unfortunately, internet security is always going to be a problem. With every update we have to protect our business, hackers respond by creating more ways to break through them. In every team of dedicated employees there will be one that doesn’t take security seriously. With every back up you make, there is the possibility that systems will fail, that information will be lost. But let’s do what we can to protect ourselves. Let’s not be easy targets. Lets not be yet another addition to the growing statistic of businesses that have suffered cyberattack.