by: Sarah Mote
Data breaches on such big-label companies as JPMorgan Chase, Home Depot and Target are prompting more small businesses to question their own digital security and wonder, “How safe is my data?”
Small businesses, in fact, can be ripe targets for cybercriminals. Many small businesses are easy targets because they don’t recognize the value of their data and haven’t yet taken the measures to protect it. In fact, a study by the National Cyber Security Alliance found that 60 percent of small firms go out of business within six months of a data breach. So if the headlines don’t prompt your business to take action to protect your data, maybe that percentage of doom will.
The goal of most cyber-attacks is to plant malware on any available computer. Once in place, hackers can exploit your computer and use it to perform additional attacks: capture banking, email and point of sale information from credit card swipes, perform cyber vandalism, even hold your computer hostage, requiring you to pay a ransom.
Cyber-attacks cost small business plenty once you add up the replacement costs, professional IT assistance, lost time, business and credibility.
But it’s not all gloomy. Here are some tips you can take to protect your data and your business.
- Use a business-class Internet firewall and anti-virus on ALL devices. Also include locking screen savers and mobile device protection services for mobile devices.
- Install all updates for system software.
- Use strong passwords – consider using pass phrases for ease of remembering and security, and do not share passwords between social and financial sites.
- Set up different accounts or networks: administrator to install new software, give guests wireless access for daily use. Use separate machines for business and personal interactions.
- Lock up your IT equipment and don’t use sticky notes with passwords written down.
- Formalize a written security policy so everyone knows the policies.
- Backup, backup, backup!
As you are moving forward to protect yourself, your employees and your clients’ information, remember to stay vigilant. If something doesn’t feel/look right, reach out the person that it came from. It is better to be safe when protecting your business.
Tips and information provided by Michael Gilmore, Chief Technical Offices with RESULTS Technology.
Content contributed by Sarah Mote, KCSourceLink. KCSourceLink is a proud affiliate of U.S.SourceLink, America's largest resource network for entrepreneurs.