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In 2015, there were over 1 million web attacks against people a day. Out of that staggering number, 43% targeted small businesses. With larger companies beefing up their cybersecurity measures, small businesses have become attractive targets for hackers. Owners should be concerned the average cost of a data breach for a small business merchant is between $36,000 and $100,000.
Common-sense solutions and general awareness of cybercrime techniques can greatly reduce your business’s vulnerability to cyberattacks.
- Install Antivirus Software
The best ways to steer clear of viruses and malware are to use an industry-leading anti-virus software solution. There are many options out there, do not install multiple anti-virus software as they can counter react and defeat the purpose. If you already have good antivirus software, make sure the auto-update and firewall options are turned on.
- Back Up Your Files
Symantec reports that ransomware—a method of using encryption to hold critical data hostage for money—increased 35% in 2015. Updating your web applications can help prevent an attack, but it’s important to regularly back-up important files just in case.
To minimize the impact of a ransomware attack is to immediately disconnect the infected machine(s) from the network, reinstall the operating system and restore from your last good backup copy.
- Email & Downloads
Email scams are becoming ever more sophisticated. Spear phishing, for example, is an email that appears to be from an individual or business you know, designed to trick you into revealing personal info.
It’s important for you and your employees to be wary of anything coming into your inbox. “Never click a link or open an attachment that you did not expect to receive. If you’re not expecting something or must think twice about the contents, don’t open it. Second step is to call and confirm from the sender
- Install Software & Operating System Updates
Pop-up reminders to update your web browser or operating system (like Windows or OS) may seem annoying, but don’t ignore them. “Ensure operating systems and applications are always fully patched with the latest security fixes. Updates will help protect you from cyberattacks.
- Use Strong Passwords Weak passwords are an invitation for hackers. Don’t make the mistake of using simple passwords, using the same password for multiple accounts. And you should change your passwords every 60 to 90 days.Businesses should invest in complex password policies for all their employees. These do not have to be too complex, but they should include a minimum of 10 characters, upper case letter, lower case letter, number and symbol. In addition, all businesses should incorporate some sort of identity theft software for their employees as well, this protects everybody.
- Use Secure Encrypted Systems to Accept Card Payments
Never photocopy, hand write, electronically key-in to a terminal, or manually copy credit card information. This is a common practice for orders over the phone, consider a secure online payment system like PayPal to accept transactions. If your systems are compromised, keystroke loggers and other hacking tools can scrape the manually entered information for later attacks.
In addition, make sure you’ve upgraded to the latest point-of-sale equipment for in-person purchases, many of the POS systems today are using older technology and operating systems like Windows XP that are no longer supported, this leaves you completely vulnerable to attacks.
- Don’t Bank Over Unsecured Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi connections at coffee shops, airports and other public places are convenient, but they aren’t secure. Never log into your online banking profile on an unsecured network—it’s all too easy for someone to steal your information that way. Look for little devices with generally 2 antennas sitting next to someone’s laptop or computer, this is called a pineapple, be aware.
If you are a road warrior and are using public Wi-Fi, invest in a VPN service to secure your transmissions
- Secure Physical Devices Storing Sensitive Data
Don’t forget that sensitive data can be physically stolen as well. Computers and drives with private business or customer information should be protected. Assume somebody will steal them and plan accordingly. So, no leaving your computer in the front seat of your car, desk, or anywhere that is accessible to the public, employees who do not have proper clearance, and ALWAYS password protect all your devices, cell phones, laptops, computers, Ipad’s.
- Train Employees & Yourself
When it comes to cybersecurity, your actions are more important than any technology. If you have employees, hold regular training to make sure they’re aware of company IT policies, and how to avoid email scams and other types of cyberattacks. Practice what you preach, if you don’t it could put you out of business!