Cyber Security is the No. 1 concern for small business owners, according to a recent Business Journal survey. That concern is warranted: many go out of business after a security breach.
According to the Small Business Committee, 71 percent of cyber-attacks occur to businesses with fewer than 100 employees. The Journal’s report estimated that more than half a million small businesses will shut down in 2017 because of cyber security breaches. They also noted:
- The cost to correct such attacks is often more than $36,000.
- As a result, 60 percent of such businesses shut down within six months of a breach.
10 Ways to Protect Your Data
Here are the steps you can take to protect your systems:
- Educate yourself. Research and learn more about cyber-attacks and what the risks are for small business owners. Here are definitions and examples of some common
- Educate your team. If an employee doesn’t realize an email is a scam, he or she might compromise his/her computer.
- Be prepared. You have a fire evacuation plan in place for the building. You should also have a plan in place to handle different types of cyber security attacks. According to a 2012 nationwide study of small businesses, 83 percent of small businesses have no formal cyber security plan, and another 69 percent have no plan at all.
- Install anti-malware and antivirus protection and run it after any software updates. Many cyber-attacks occur through malware and aren’t noticed until too late.
- Update all software. Software updates often correct security bugs or problems. Make sure your team members are updating things or have an IT person handle it for everyone systematically.
- Pick up the phone and verify things instead of using emails, especially for credit card information and other financial data and transactions.
- Secure your hardware. In many cyber-attack cases, thieves first break in and steal employee laptops and other equipment. The physical loss is harmful, but thieves can also then use that equipment to hack your information. Physically lock items to desks. Keep all server rooms locked and closed when not in use. Make sure your building has a security system, including monitoring and cameras.
- Secure your Wi-Fi. Disable the service set identifier (SSID) broadcasting function on the wireless router so others cannot see the network. Also, update your Wi-Fi to the latest encryption standard.
- Encrypt your data. Operating systems comes with encryption tools such as BitLocker and FileVault for PCs and Macs, respectively. These tools encrypt everything as long as the system is logged off. Keep in mind that while someone is logged on, a hacker can still get in. Set employee computers to automatically log out after a certain length of time.
- Change passwords. Require employees to change passwords each quarter. Passwords need to be at least eight characters, a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. Never use personal information or family birthdates.
Protect Your Company
Even with security, you may still be hit with a cyber-attack. Many companies are turning to cyber security insurance policies, just as they rely on insurance in case of an office flood or burglary. The demand for such policies is growing. If you have in-house team members managing security, consider a policy that protects against their errors as well as any packaged software problems.
Concerned about security at your company? Give us a call to learn more about protecting your office and equipment.