Every week, there are stories in the press about cyber-crimes against major companies. Yahoo, Dropbox and LinkedIn have all been targeted this year. For every one of these high-profile hacking cases, there are thousands of others being committed against smaller companies. The problem is increasing at an alarming rate, and all business owners must take action to reduce the risks of an attack.
A report by Check Point Software says that small businesses have become “the cybercriminal’s sweet spot”, because they have limited security resources yet hold valuable information that can be exploited for financial gains.
The following tips can help business owners avoid being hacked.
1) Understand the potential threats.
The true scale of cyber-crime isn’t known, but experts predict there are as many as 5,000 incidents every day. New methods of breaching security protections are emerging every week. If you don’t want your business to become part of the statistic, you must take steps to raise awareness of the risks of hacking and take action to prevent it. 10% of security is hardware/software and the other 90% comes as user awareness.
2) Security software is essential.
It’s a common mistake to assume that operating systems have antivirus and firewall software built in. Security software should be purchased and installed on all IT equipment as a key defense against hackers. Free and trial versions are available, but these don’t offer the full protection of paid-for versions. Antivirus software won’t prevent all forms of cyber-crime, but it can block the majority of hacking attempts.
3) Take password protection seriously.
New technology is emerging as a replacement for passwords, but for now they remain an effective way to protect IT equipment against unauthorized use. Passwords should contain a mix of letters, numbers and other characters. They can be cracked if you use names and common words. Passwords should be changed on a regular basis, and different ones should be used for each account and system you operate.
4) Download with caution.
Installing apps on mobile devices and downloading music or software from unknown sources can open the door to hackers. Ransomware and other forms of malware are often hidden in downloads. When downloading apps, always check permissions so you can control what information they have access to. For example, a game should not have access to your list of contacts. Opening email attachments from unknown sources can also compromise IT security.
5) Secure your Wi-Fi network.
Wi-Fi networks can be one of the weak points in a company’s IT security. If not properly secured, they present an easy way for cyber-criminals to access data on your systems. It’s essential that you enable encryption on your Wi-Fi network to keep intruders and eavesdroppers at bay. As an additional level of protection, consider installing software to filter users and monitor who is joining your network.
In conclusion, determined hackers will attempt a wide range of methods to access your business’s data, but the majority can be prevented by following these tips.
To learn more about the Online Owls and how they can help protect your business, give us a call (888) 636-OWLS or visit us at www.onlineowls.com for more information.