It used to be that businesses had to only worry about physical security. Locking doors, ensuring that alarms were set and obeying correct protocol were all tools put in place to ensure that criminal activity against businesses was kept to a minimum.
With the profusion of online crime, however, this is changing. More than ever, cyber-criminals are attacking not just large corporations, but small- and medium-sized businesses too. Data breaches, network intrusions and website attacks, such as those of Ashley Madison and Sony Pictures Entertainment, are more common than ever. As all forms are data become increasingly lucrative targets of theft, business-owners should take pre-emptive steps and precautions to secure their business networks.
Top 10 Ways to Keep your Business Safe
Regardless of whether you run an online business or simply maintain a company website, having a strong password is one of the fundamentals to ensuring data remains safe. “Password1234“ isn’t going to cut it in the face of complex authentication hacking tools. Strong passwords should be long, contain capital letters, numbers, symbols, and punctuation. On the heels of that, make sure to change your passwords regularly, and, of course, don’t share them with others.
9. Scan your sites
Just like a regular computer, vulnerable websites can become infected with malware. Indicators of infected sites are that they load slowly, barrage you with advertisements or redirect you to another website. It is advisable that you scan your website regularly to check for weaknesses that hackers may be able to exploit. Download a site scanner that will alert you to any vulnerabilities that your website might have.
8. SSL Certificates
If you have an e-commerce site or merely one that collects personal information, you’re going to need an SSL certificate to let consumers know they can trust your site. Without an SSL encryption, data can be intercepted by untrustworthy third parties. Most web hosting services offer packages such as this one including SSL protection, and should be a staple of any website or online business.
7. Keep your web server updated
Just like your programs and apps, it’s important that your server, as well as your website, is regularly updated and patched. Content management systems such as WordPress and e-commerce platforms should also be kept updated. Usually, you will get regular notifications regarding this, but it wouldn’t hurt to be prudent and contact your hosting provider to check that all the software is being updated regularly.
6. Download malware protection
This one should go without saying. Installing malware (or malicious software) protection is of the utmost importance and should be among the first things you do when buying a new computer. Malware includes computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware and even scareware, and can manifest itself in emails, downloadable software, photos, and videos. It’s best to run periodic virus scans as everyone is bound to encounter malware at some point. Luckily, there are loads of free antivirus tools, such as Comodo and Avast, to keep your system safe.
5. Back up data regularly
Hardware, operating systems and applications come and go. If lost or damaged, they can always be replaced. With data it’s a different story. Data is arguably the most important aspect of your business. This can range from customer information to accounts records. It is vital that data is always backed up in the event of a hardware failure or a cyberattack. This can be done manually through external hard-drives, or through cloud services. It’s always advisable to make more than one back-up and to make backing up a daily routine.
4. Don’t leave devices unattended
Be sure not to leave any phones, tablets, laptops or other devices unattended. It’s all too easy for anyone to commandeer said unattended device and obtain the data within. Always make sure to turn off devices not in use, log out of web accounts, lock away mobile devices, and ensure that PCs are logged off before leaving. Also, make sure to lock the office doors on the way out.
3. Be aware of mobile threats
Smartphones and other mobile devices have become ubiquitous companions. And while they are undoubtedly useful and necessary, they are also goldmines of information. Data can be leeched using malicious malware as easily as any physical computer or website. And once infected, devices can be used to steal data by operating over either the mobile phone network or any connected Wi-Fi network. Invest in mobile antivirus software such as Avira or Kaspersky to keep your phone free from malware.
2. Beware of phishing scams
Phishing scams are nothing new, yet it’s still something to be savvy about. Over 150 million phishing emails are sent out daily. These emails are designed to lure you into giving out personal information, and it affects over 80,000 people every day. Next time that the lawyer of your late twice-removed uncle requests your banking details to deposit your inheritance, proceed cautiously.
1. Train employees
Employees are another security risk, so if your business employs anyone, ensure that they are trained in at least basic online security. Keeping the business secure is everyone’s responsibility, and, as helpful as anti-malware software and website scanners are, basic vigilance is an understated yet very effective deterrent against security breaches.