Small Businesses Are Not Exempt from Cyber Attacks

Cyber safety is within your grasp.

More than 60 percent of business-related cyber attacks happen to small business owners!

This doesn’t mean that you need to hire ex-Navy SEALs to protect your organization. However, it does demand more vigilance on your part when it comes to protecting your own — and especially your customers’ — data.

What Is a Cyber Attack?

Many different types of cyber attacks exist, and they seem to get more complicated and more varied as time passes, especially on mobile devices. Criminals have used cyber attacks to gain access to passwords, account numbers, and identity information. They often encrypt data on SMB-owned networks so they can ransom the network and the information on it for money.

In many cases, cyber attacks catch small businesses by surprise when an employee (or the business owner) clicks on a seemingly innocent email or shares their passwords with someone who shouldn’t have them. Each employee can become a liability to the entire organization’s security, which is why small business owners must educate themselves and their workers on prevention.

Educate Your Team

Train your employees in the art of data protection. I keep lots of files on my business network that no one else should see, so I’m constantly changing passwords and reminding my employees about safe cyber practices and of the consequences of failing to follow them.

Focus on the following competencies when putting your team through cyber security training:

  • Avoid clicks: Unless you can verify the sender, avoid clicking on any links, even if you think you recognize the top-level domain (TLD). Hackers can “spoof” email addresses to fool otherwise vigilant employees.
  • Change passwords regularly: Consider creating a company policy that requires employees to change their passwords frequently.
  • Keep devices secure: Make sure your employees use encryption on their personal devices, such as passwords, especially if they store work information on those devices.
  • Scan everything: Let your employees know that the network’s antivirus software will scan any digital devices they bring into the office, such as USB drives and peripherals.
  • Update software: Even though you upgrade your network to the latest version of anti-virus software, you must ensure that they are installed on all company and employee BYOD devices. A single crack in your defenses could create a cyber risk.

Embrace Encryption

I’m a big fan of encryption. It’s a useful tool to make sure that only select people can read the data you collect about your business and your customers.

We’re constantly facing new threats from criminals who want access to our customers’ credit card information or our proprietary company information. Encryption can stop them from getting what they want.

As a small business owner, you may not think that they have room in your budgets for high-dollar software that might protect you from cyber attacks. However, there are several inexpensive encryption programs on the market today, such as CertainSafe and Cypherix PE.

Classify Data Correctly

If you want to protect your small business’ sensitive data, you must know when to classify data as sensitive. For instance, employee personal information should be considered sensitive because criminals could use it to steal identities.

Once you know how to classify data, you can protect it adequately and appropriately. You may not need to encrypt and protect everything (which slows down productivity and frustrates user) but you do need to protect the important things.

Identify Internet-Connected Devices

Small businesses aren’t operating only on desktop and laptop computers. Owners and employees use smartphones, tablets, and other Internet-connected devices that can create vulnerabilities in an otherwise well-protected system.

Internet crime can be perpetrated on any device that connects to the web. To take the time to protect all those devices.

Will your small business become the target of a cyber attack? More than 60% of small businesses do. If you don’t take steps to protect your business, you make yourself an easy, target. Let’s not do that.

Protect yourself and your business and have fun while you’re at it. If you are ready to take your small business to the next level, Join me at this year’s Reinvention Weekend Conference Oct. 6-7, 2017 in Washington, DC. Cybersecurity is just one of the many topics I will share to help you fix your business.

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