Keeping your company information and equipment secure and free of harm is an important part of running your business. Protecting your business from cyber attacks, information theft, viruses and other cyber threats will help you to maintain productivity and make customers feel comfortable that you will keep their information safe. Small businesses are definitely at risk. One in five cyber attacks affect businesses with 250 or fewer employees, according to a 2013 hearing of the House Committee on Small Business. And more than half of small businesses go out of business as a result of a cyber attack. Read these FAQs to find answers on how to secure your business and enhance your company security.
How can I protect my company against viruses?
Your business computer and servers should have up-to-date firewall protection, antivirus software, and anti-spyware software. Insist on these features as part of your technology investment. You can often access this protection when you purchase hardware and Internet connection services, so always ask about protection when you make any purchase. On the software side, be sure to purchase business-grade protection software, since it may have more flexibility and features to support your business needs. Once the foundation of protective software is in place, you and your team should download security patches as they become available to keep your protection up to date.
Do passwords really matter?
One of the most important steps you can take to prevent viruses, malware and hackers from afflicting your company is creating effective passwords. Many people still use simple passwords, such as words or basic number combinations, which can be hacked. Instead, you and your staff should use passwords with a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. Create unique passwords for key sites, such as your bank, so that if one password is breached, your access to other sites will remain secure.
What about document downloads?
Many people are aware of “phishing” email scams which try to get the recipient to provide private information in response to an email that appears to be from a legitimate company, such as a bank or credit card company. However, hackers are continually improving their approaches, so continually reinforce to your staff the importance of avoiding clicking on any emails or downloading any files that look suspicious. Encourage vigilance with mobile devices too. Scammers are focused now on SMS phishing, or “smishing,” to target people through text messages and trick them into downloading infected files.
Does my staff’s use of mobile devices put my company at risk?
In a word, yes. The variety of devices, usage habits, and evolving threats make mobile devices a huge risk to small business security. However, mobile devices are also a benefit to company productivity, so the solution is to craft an approach to securing these devices to minimize risk. Start by understanding how employees use their mobile devices for work and where they travel. For example, are they accessing the company network or logging into unsecure WiFi networks when they are out of the office? Understand which devices and operating systems employees are using which will help you to choose security tools to keep company information safe. You may want to develop a mobile device policy—often called Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)—which should include recommendations for secure passwords, safe WiFi usage, and antivirus and anti-malware software to protect employee mobile devices.
Do apps pose a risk?
Apps and mobile devices obviously go hand in hand. Mobile apps and malware are also interconnected. Mobile apps infected with malware typically resemble legitimate games, instant messaging and even antivirus software. Once this malware makes its way onto a device it can do all kinds of nasty things including reconfiguring settings, sending malicious emails, damaging files and even locking your device in exchange for “ransom.” Malicious apps can be found almost anywhere but are typically found in third-party app stores outside of official app selling locations, such as Google Play™ or the Apple® App Store.
Are the companies I work with putting me at risk?
If you share emails or information with vendors, their security breach may be your security breach. An important part of keeping your company secure is asking vendors about their security practices. Think about what security safeguards you have in place, and determine whether your vendors are at least on par with you. You may also want to ask vendors about employee screening for vendor staff who will have access to your information. Be sure the company has strong processes in place for protecting information, including encryption of electronic data (both during transmission and in storage) and off-site data backup.
What about protecting customers on my website?
If customers buy from your website or share personal data with your company via your website, your reputation and success depend on protecting this information. The information you need to protect includes usernames, passwords, contact information or any other data that could cause trouble in the hands of hackers. Standard protection for a business website is a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate. SSL technology encrypts communication between end users and websites.
What else can I do to protect company information?
Safeguards are essential to try to prevent a loss or corruption of information or company technology. However, there is no replacement for simply backing up your information so that if you lose it, or find it damaged, you can reclaim it with a minimum of loss and aggravation. Backing up your company information, ideally off-site, provides an opportunity for getting all your information back. There are many services available that will back up all company information as frequently as you would like. Since backup is automatic and continuous, you don’t have to do anything to maintain this important security feature.
Protecting your company information is as important as sales, marketing and cash flow management. Done right, your company will be secure and customers will feel confident that you are protecting the information they put in your care.
Spectrum Business can provide protection and peace of mind for your small business via Spectrum Business Desktop Security.
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