Own a small business? Then you’re a target! Larger businesses have been working hard to secure their information systems, so small businesses with fewer resources to spend on security are now being targeted. Don’t think you’re too small or have nothing worth stealing. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality. According to a 2013 Small Business Technology Survey by the National Small Business Association, 44 percent of small businesses reported being the victim of a cyberattack, with an average cost of approximately $9,000 per attack. What sensitive information does your business store?
Personal information for employees
Sensitive information for customers/clients
Financial and sensitive business information
Cyber criminals thrive on data about employees, customers, bank accounts and many other types of information any small business would have. This information needs to be secured in your systems, meaning it should be kept confidential yet available when needed, and kept as accurate as possible. And don’t forget your website. It also needs to be secure in order to prevent putting current or potential customers at risk.
Here are 5 tips from the SBA you can do to protect your small business:
1. Protect against viruses, spyware, and other malicious code
Make sure all of your company computers have antivirus software and antispyware installed. This software is readily available online from a variety of vendors. Don’t forget to update regularly! As a best practice, you can configure all software to install updates automatically.
- Secure your networks
Protect your Internet connection by using a firewall and encrypting information. Be sure your Wi-Fi network is secure and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, set up your wireless access point or router so it does not broadcast the network name (SSID). And password protect access to the router, too.
- Instruct employees about cyber threats and hold them accountable
Educate your employers about online threats and how to protect your organization’s data, including safe use of social networking sites. Depending on the nature of your business, employees might be introducing competitors to sensitive details about your firm’s internal business. Employees should be informed about how to post online in a way that does not reveal any trade secrets to the public or competing businesses. Hold employees accountable to the firm’s Internet security policies and procedures.
- Require all employees to use strong passwords and to change them often.
Consider implementing multifactor authentication that requires additional information beyond a password to gain entry. Check with your vendors that handle sensitive data, especially financial institutions, to see if they offer multifactor authentication for your account.
- Employ best practices on payment cards.
Credit card companies are now shifting from magnetic-strip payment cards to safer, more secure chip card technology known as “EMV.” Work with your banks and processors to ensure you’re using the most trusted and validated anti-fraud services. Always isolate payment systems from other, less secure programs. And never use the same computer to process payments and surf the Internet.
A the Small Business Administration reminds us, no one can guarantee your safety from a cyber attack but proper planning can make a big difference. By using these tips you can help promote the safety of your employees, customers, and the future success of your small business.
Visit the SBA website for more ways to protect business from cyber theft.
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