It seems as if there is something in the news every week about a major data breach. October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, so there’s no better time to ensure your small business is taking every possible step to protect itself.
Many business owners have the misconceptions that data breaches only happen to large companies when, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Small businesses can appear vulnerable to hackers, making them bigger targets. Because of this, it is essential that small businesses take the necessary steps to protect themselves.
Here are several steps small business owners should take to avoid becoming victims to cyber fraud.
- Safeguard credit cards and bank accounts. Keep personal accounts and cards separate from business. This can also help you more efficiently track expenses.
- Install and update software. Install the most updated antivirus or antispyware software, and don’t ignore notifications calling for a software update.
- Protect important files. Keep files encrypted and always ensure your connection is secure when sharing any confidential information. Back up your software in case a cyber-attack does occur.
- Educate your staff. Schedule quarterly meetings to reinforce data security protocols. Be wary of unsolicited “technicians,” especially if someone shows up and says they need to work on your system, but you didn’t call for support. This is an “oldie but a goodie” method for wannabe hackers.
- Improve passwords. Hackers can easily guess passwords, so it’s important to select a password that alternates in lower- and upper-case letters and contains special characters and numbers. Users should change passwords regularly, and avoid including any variations of their names. Also, the longer the better. Longer passwords are not just harder to guess, they are exponentially harder to hack.
- Insure your business. Talk to your insurance company about implementing a policy that will protect your organization in the event of a data breach. This can help offset any legal costs that come with cyber fraud.
- Be wary of emails. Hackers can now send emails from what seem like legitimate email addresses. Make sure you recognize the sender before opening any attachments or links.
- Create a recovery plan. Have a plan in place to protect and rebuild your reputation and revenue, in case you become a victim of cyber fraud. Be sure to periodically test the plan to ensure your team is adequately prepared.
Originally posted on the Memphis Chamber Blog here.