Cyber crime is on the rise and criminals are focusing on small businesses more than ever before.
Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report shows that small businesses have become a big target for phishers. Last year, phishing campaigns targeted small businesses 43 percent of the time.
In fact, small business cyber security is now a top priority of the House Committee on Small Business, which conducted hearings on the dangers of cyber-attacks on small businesses in April of 2016. “The owners, employees and customers of America’s 28 million small businesses need to have confidence that their data is secure,” said House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot in a statement.
Here are some ways cyber crooks might harm your small business:
- Steal funds from bank accounts using wire transfers
- Steal customers’ personal identity information
- File fraudulent tax refunds
- Commit health insurance fraud
- Steal intellectual property
There are steps you can take to ensure that your company is safe from malicious attacks.
Educate Your Employees
Anti-malware and anti-spam software can be effective but nothing is more important that educating your employees about online security. Your employees can receive free online security training via Think Security First. Ensure that your employees know who to contact immediately if they suspect a security breach.
Establish High Levels of Encryption
Strong encryption is vital the minute you start to collect and store customer personal information like names, email address and credit card information. Data breaches with this information can lead to lawsuits and reputation damage.
Let your employees know that usernames and passwords should not be shared in the office. And of course, passwords should be complex – a combination of letters, numbers and characters. Improving the complexity of passwords and stopping people from using the same passwords are easy ways to improve security.
Review accounts regularly
Review all bank accounts regularly. Cyber criminals can have access to stolen data for months. Recognizing that something is amiss can be the first clue that you’re a possible victim.
Limit access to personally identifiable information (PII) and protected health information (PHI)
Grant only employees whose job responsibilities explicitly require it access to PII and PHI.
Keep an Eye on Mobile
Internet-connected devices on your network include PCs, laptops and mobile. Data becomes even more vulnerable when it’s on the go, according to an article posted by SmallBusinessComputing.com. They report that an IBM-Ponemon study has shown that 67 percent of companies allow workers to download non-vetted mobile apps on their devices. This creates a pathway for hackers to steal business data.
Update Computer Operating Systems
Security safeguards are updated frequently by manufactures. Be sure to sign up for the automatic updates that install security patches on your system. Hackers seek out systems that don’t have the latest safeguards.
Look into Anti-virus Software
Anti-virus software is a program designed to prevent, search for, detect, and remove software viruses. Software should also be installed that blocks spam and detects spyware.
The Department of Homeland Security has a list of good information for entrepreneurs who want to keep their business safe. Visit Stop.Think.Connect. Small Business Resources.
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