Everyone has read in the newspapers or heard the five o’clock news stories about cyber attacks on major retailers and banks. Many have been victims in the attacks, having had to deal with systems' security breaches that put their personal and financial information at risk. Small businesses are subject to the same types of security issues, if on a smaller scale.
Business information security is extremely important on many levels, including financial, reputation, and customer service. The Small Business Administration reports that most small businesses that backup their business data only back it up on-site, which leaves them vulnerable to loss in the event of natural disasters or formal emergencies.
The SBA advises small businesses to develop security policies including emergency preparedness and disaster recovery guides. Having a plan in place before disaster strikes helps you recover more quickly in the event of floods, tornadoes, fires, and other emergencies that can damage or destroy a business. You may want to implement a preparedness program that includes a security service such as LifeLock to keep your private business information safe.
Creating a preparedness program includes five steps, including program management, planning, implementation, testing and exercises, and program improvement. The SBA recommends approaching emergency preparedness with management leadership, commitment, and financial support that includes an assessment of risks and a preparedness policy aligned with the business goals. A designated emergency preparedness program coordinator can bring organization and structure, as well as timelines, to the plan until it’s fully implemented.
Secure Social Media
Many small businesses use social media to connect with customers and compete with big brands and larger businesses. There are business risks to using social media that should be mitigated with enforced usage and privacy policies, as Cisco suggests. There should also be double checks on account administration so there isn’t only one person with access to account changes, and training protocols for employees on acceptable, safe business use of the company Facebook page.
• Hackers break into small business systems through three common avenues: passwords, holes in outdated security software, and users’ risky computing behaviors. Minimize your risk with basic security measures used consistently throughout your company.
• Implement good password security by using different pass phrases for different sites, and never reuse passwords or use a predictable formula. Use high-strength combinations of characters that include numbers as well as upper and lower case letters.
• When you don’t update your security software, you leave company systems vulnerable to holes that hackers take advantage of. Regularly update your security software, and designate someone to be responsible for tracking updates to make sure they are installed. Hackers constantly test the internet and use sophisticated tools to search for vulnerabilities and ways into business networks, so you should be constantly reinforcing your security programs to guard against it.
• Eliminate users unknowingly or accidentally causing security breaches from email forwarding, unnecessary downloads, and unauthorized web surfing. Conduct regular and ongoing computer security training. Make sure everyone in the company knows the security policy and any other policies related to use of company computer equipment and networks. Small Business Computing recommends training users on safe use of email, Internet, and network systems to raise security awareness levels.
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