Your business is your pride and joy, and it's hard to imagine anyone on the inside—or the outside—would want to do it harm. Unfortunately, cyber criminals are out there and all businesses, big and small, need to step up the fight against cybercrime.
Attacks on government agencies and big corporations are all over the news; many small businesses are just as wired into cyberspace but without the same level of defense to safeguard data.
Officials estimated that U.S. companies lose about $8 billion a year to cyber-attacks. The average attack can end up costing a small business nearly $190,000.
First things first: There are many ways cyber criminals can break into your business and they are thinking up new methods as you read this. Often they use more than one approach in a single attack.
However, there are several easy, common sense steps you can take to limit your vulnerability and safeguard against cyber-attacks.
Antivirus, antivirus, antivirus!
Install and regularly update your antivirus software on every computer you use in your business. Perform weekly scans to ensure nothing is lurking – this can be scheduled to run automatically on most antivirus software.
Your employees should learn the importance of protecting the information they regularly handle to help reduce exposure. This includes locking up customer records to keeping passwords strong and confidential.
Install software updates.
Software vendors frequently provide important updates to correct security issues. It is important to either update automatically or receive notification when updates are available.
Defend your network.
Setup a firewall to protect your internal network from cyber criminals prowling the internet looking for easy targets.
Protect your WiFi.
Protect your WiFi network by requiring a password. It is also important to change the out of the box administrative password when it is first installed.
Never open an attachment if you don’t recognize who it is from or what it is. Even if from a trusted source, don’t open the file if the email seems a bit random. Contact the sender to see if they sent or was is automatically generated by a virus.
Backup, backup, backup!
Regularly schedule and perform backups on every computer containing information needed to run your business.
Remove unneeded programs.
Remove any programs you don’t use, that PDF Convertor you downloaded for one thing six months ago might actually be a gateway for hackers.
Remember to log off.
Ensure you and your employees properly log off when you have completed online transactions.
Do not enable auto login.
Ensure you do not have your applications set to automatically log in and your browser is not set to “remember” your login and password.
The FCC also has resources specific to how small businesses protecting themselves from cyber-attacks.