Cyber-attacks are a growing concern for all businesses, and can be particularly hurtful to small businesses that may not have the resources for sophisticated digital security systems. But there are steps small business owners and employees can take to mitigate the risks of an attack.
— Donise Georgeff
Vice President, Commercial Banking
TheBANK of Edwardsville
In 2015, 43% of cyber-attacks worldwide were against businesses with less than 250 workers, according to cybersecurity firm Symantec. While larger companies have the bandwidth and funds to implement sophisticated security systems, smaller companies will likely be more accessible – something crooks are aware of. Those breaches in your security can be detrimental to your business’ success. So what can you do?
Take the time to refresh your digital protection and invest in software where needed. Check your computers’ security systems and networks and ensure each computer has updated antivirus software installed. Operating systems and browsers should have automatic updates enabled, and personal firewall protection should be turned on.
Because people often log into personal accounts on work computers – or vice versa – encourage your workforce to keep the suggestions below in mind.
- Use secure websites with “https” at the beginning of the URL or websites that show a padlock icon in your browser’s security status bar.
- Shred any documents with personal or sensitive information.
- Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails; although sites may seem legitimate, they are often fakes. Exit the email and visit the website directly.
- Do not pay bills, shop or conduct other financial transactions on a public or shared computer, or on any device that is using a public wireless network, as the security is unreliable.
- Use two-factor authentication, also called “two-step verification,” for email and social media accounts. Two-step verification requires both a correct username/password combination and an additional piece of information for account access.
- Choose strong, complicated passwords: 8-12 characters with a special character is ideal. Never share passwords among sites. Username/password combinations that fall into the wrong hands will often be tried at multiple locations.
- Don’t keep a document on your computer listing passwords, bank accounts, Social Security numbers or other personal information – this is the first thing hackers search for. Instead, use a password manager and enable two-step verification for the application you choose.
- Back up personal or important data with a cloud-based service or a local device
Although warding off cybercrime can seem daunting, promoting safe internet usage and taking measures to protect your company’s information now can protect you from costly and timely security breaches down the road.