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Is Your Small Business In Danger Of Being Hacked?

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By Debbie Gregory.

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There is no way to completely secure any business against hackers. Even if you take every single precaution, you are still at risk from diligent criminals. Hackers seek out weaknesses and are very good at exploiting them. Thankfully there are a few things you can do to lower your chances of being hacked.

 

Focus Areas To Protect From Hacking:

 

1.) Professional IT support

If you do not have a professional IT (information technology) person or company working for you, get one. Criminals rarely discriminate between large and small companies and anyone can be exposed to a data hack. Paying a professional to evaluate your risks, install the right software, monitor activity, and keep everything up to date is a critical and essential business cost in our world today.

 

2.) Employee Training

Most security problems stem from employee-related errors. Things like clicking on bad websites, accidentally downloading or installing malicious software, opening up infected files, allowing fake IT companies remote access to their computer, etc. Invest in training a few times a year with a good IT security firm so that your employees are more aware of the potential problems they can face and how to avoid doing things that make your business more vulnerable.

 

3.) Employee Turnover

When employees leave a company, they tend to take data with them. This is usually not done maliciously.  However, there are always some people who may take things on purpose to sell to a competitor or for other potentially vengeful reasons. It is a good idea to have procedures in place for data when an employee exits your company.

 

4.) Remote Employees

Employees that are moving around outside of your company with your data are at a higher risk of that data being lost or stolen. If an employee or contractor is remotely connecting to your database or server through online services, these also have a chance of being hacked. Again, work with a professional IT person to make sure you have strong data management and connection tools in place for these remote workers and make sure they are being actively monitored.

 

5.) Employees’ Personal Devices

Are your employees allowed to bring and use their own devices for work? If so, their devices can create an easy way in for a hacker. Much like remote employees, any person using their own device for work should be monitored and secured by your IT professional.

 

6.) Old Outdated Computers and Operating Systems

Running older, out of date versions of Microsoft Windows or Apple’s iOS will leave you incredibly vulnerable to hackers. Make sure that all computers in your company are using the most recent version of whatever OS you utilize. If the hardware is unable to run the latest OS, then upgrade the hardware.

 

7.) Security Software

All devices used in your company need good security software. Always make sure that the software is up to date and that it is configured to run routine scans. Most security software applications are relatively inexpensive, they run quietly in the background of the device and check for malware, viruses, infected websites, and any other vulnerabilities in the system.

 

8.) Strong Passwords

Most people are still pretty lax with their passwords.   Can you believe the most common password today is still “1234?”  Make sure that you require strong passwords (a combination of letters, numbers and symbols) for all devices and make sure that those passwords are changed every month or two.

 

9.) Secure Your Data

Make sure that all data you handle is encrypted, backed up regularly, and stored securely. If your company handles data such as health, financial or other personal information about your customers, and it is stolen, you can have a huge problem on your hands. Make sure that you have polices and procedures in place to safeguard confidential customer data; and make sure that you train your employees to handle the data securely.

 

 

Unfortunately, you can’t completely avoid being hacked… but making sure you are taking care of the nine items listed above will increase your chances of avoiding hackers by quite a lot.

 

Small Business Cyber Security Basics

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Our world relies heavily on technology and the Internet. Criminals target companies of all sizes, including small businesses. Knowing a few security basics can help you protect your business and even reduce the risk of your business falling victim to a cyber criminal’s attacks.

 

Below are six key areas to focus on to help make your business more secure:

 

1.) Require strong passwords on everything

Strong passwords are at least 12 characters long and are a mix of numbers, symbols, and capital and lowercase letters. Use strong passwords for all laptops, tablets, computers, and smartphones owned or used by your company and your employees. Make sure that no one leaves any of these devices unattended in public places. Never reuse old passwords and never share passwords in texts or by email. Make sure that you also limit the number of unsuccessful log-in attempts to limit password-guessing attacks.

 

2.) Use multi-factor authentication

Require multi-factor authentication to access areas of your network with sensitive information. This requires additional steps beyond logging in with a password such as a temporary code on a smartphone or a key that’s inserted into a computer.

 

3.) Secure your router

Make sure that you change the default name and password that comes pre-installed on your router. Make sure that you also turn off remote management and log out as the administrator once the router is set up. Make sure your router offers WPA2 or WPA3 encryption, and that it’s turned on. Encryption protects information sent over your network so it can’t be read by outsiders. If you do not know how to do this we recommend getting in touch with a reputable tech company to take care of this for you.

 

4.) Keep all software up to date

Make sure that all of your devices are setup to automatically update when an update becomes available. This includes any apps, programs, web browsers, hardware, and operating systems.

 

5.) Secure all of your files

Backup all important files offline – either on an external hard drive or in the cloud. Make sure that the offline backup is secured with a strong password. Make sure you store all of your sensitive paper files securely. Also, make sure that you encrypt the data on devices and other media that contain sensitive personal information. This includes laptops, tablets, smartphones, removable drives, backup tapes, and storage solutions.

 

6.) Train your staff

Create a culture in your company of security by implementing a regular schedule of employee training and make sure that you keep your employees updated as you find out about new risks and vulnerabilities.

 

 

Most importantly, make sure that you have a plan in place just in case you do experience a breach. You will need to get backups online quickly so you can get back to work as well as notify any customers who may also be impacted. The FTC’s Data Breach Response: A Guide for Business gives you steps that you can take.

 

Again, cyber security is increasingly important in our world. If you are uncomfortable or lack the knowledge to implement security at your company we highly recommend hiring a professional technology company to keep your information secure.

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