In recent years, hackers have found ways to penetrate networks from the US government to Sony Corporation, and in the process, make network security chiefs jobs a lot harder. Whether the hack comes from a competitive threat or a malicious prank, big businesses always have to be on the alert for network impropriety.
Do small businesses have to watch for the same issues? Yes, they do. The National Small Business Association has found that 44% of its members have at some time suffered some sort of hack or cyber attack against its systems, its employees or its internal records. These attacks come at an average cost of $8,700 per company.
Moreover, because they don’t think they’ll be a target, 83% of small businesses don’t have a formal cybersecurity protection plan; 69% do not even have an informal one. That’s from a 2012 Symantec/National Cyber Security Alliance study of small businesses. That’s more than enough reason for small businesses to shore up their digital defenses against cyber hackers.
Protect the Company
Small businesses have to be on the alert to protect customer information, business accounting records and more. It’s better to beef up your network security, both internally and externally to get the protection that’s right for your firm if your company does suffer some type of attack.
The precautionary tips below are meant for the growing number of small businesses around the United States. By working closely with your Internet service provider, your local PC tech repair firm and your own internal staffers, you should be able to withstand cyber attacks on your company.
Precautions - Protect Your Business From Hacking
1. Hire computer security experts – Small businesses should look to bringing in a computer security company to protect their assets. This could include a full evaluation of computers across the network and websites that employees often use. Get an overall consultation on how best to protect your firm. Also, work closely with your email providers to keep defenses high across the board.
2. Use a solid firewall – In order to protect your network, make sure you have a strong firewall. A firewall is essential because it controls the incoming traffic and the outgoing traffic from your network. Think of it as a “5-second delay” used in live broadcasts on TV and radio) Firewalls should be standard today. However, new startups (even tech-oriented ones) might not recognize the importance of using a solid firewall.
3. Use strong passwords and change them on a schedule – Using strong passwords is the one of the easiest precautions that a small business can ask for its employees. Strong passwords, obviously, improve the security of your network. Use a combination of lower and upper case letters, symbols, and numbers. The optimum length of good passwords seems to be about eight characters long.
Companies should ask employees and other network users to change passwords four times a year, at least. If your company works with highly sensitive data (financial, medical), then change passwords more frequently. If the computer is used by more than one person, then everyone should have their own log-in details and there should never be any shared password.
4. Use antivirus and anti-malware programs at your company – Such programs are the most important essentials that companies should use for the security maintenance of the company network. With this software, your company will be protected against malware attacks, email infiltration and they’ll be regularly updated.
Check this comparison page for top anti-virus providers for small businesses.
5. Update your internal programs – Keeping your programs updated is necessary towards full protection. There is no point to installing great software if you do not keep it maintained. Security applications are only as good as their last update. Keeping such programs updated gives you a heads up when there is an issue that programmers have already fixed.
5. Keep company laptops secured – The portable nature of laptops makes them more vulnerable to hacking than desktop computers. This vulnerability comes in because 1) They are easily stolen or lost when compared to desktops and thus, there is a need for more care to protect your most sensitive data. 2) Laptops sign into Wi-Fi networks, some with questionable security.
Ensure that your staff members keep extremely sensitive data off local laptop hard drives. If this data gets out to hackers, your company’s systems could be corrupted.
6. Secure your phones – Today’s mobile phones are yesterday’s company laptops. Company data kept on phones can be lost or stolen just the same as laptops or desktop computers. To secure your phone, the following methods can be used:
- Encryption software / applications
- Password protection: Phones can be locked out after a set number of times if the correct password isn’t used.
- Remote wiping enabled: This is an extremely effective way of securing a phone because the phone can be lost and you will have no access to the phone. As a result, you need to be able to wipe any data on it. This work extremely well if you’ve also backed up data and anything else (photos) into the cloud storage option provided by either the phone manufacturer or the wireless phone carrier.
If your company needs expert advice on tech security and PC repairs, contact your local Geeks on Site office for timely, personable service.