cyber criminal, hacked, hacking, internet security, small business

How to Protect Your Small Business From Hackers

“31% of all targeted attacks [in 2012] were aimed at businesses with less than 250 employees.” – 2013 Internet Security Threat Report, Symantec. This represents an alarming 300 per cent increase from 2011.

It’s not just large, multi-national companies that should worry about cyber-criminals. Small businesses are also at risk.

Why are cyber-criminals targeting small businesses? They are interested in accessing a company’s intellectual property, bank account information and customer data.

Here are some general tips to help protect your small business from a cyber attack:

Be smart about how you select and use passwords. Create strong passwords. Passwords should be eight or more characters long and include letters, numbers, punctuation and symbols (e.g., $#%*).

Change your passwords regularly. Passwords for your email, banking and credit card websites should be changed every three months or so.

As a rule of thumb, do not use personal information, words found in the dictionary or repeated or sequential numbers or letters. The top 25 most commonly used passwords break these rules by using passwords such as 123456, password (the most common password!), abc123, monkey, 111111, iloveyou, mustang, baseball and 123123.

Do not use the same password for everything. Cyber-criminals can steal passwords on sites that have inadequate security and use that password to access more secure websites, such as email websites.

Visit Microsoft’s Safety & Security Center website to test the strength of your password.

Educate staff in effective security practices. Make sure you have security guidelines in place that educate employees about the importance of securing information, internet safety, identifying red flags that their information has been hacked, and what to do in case of a security breach. This should include procedures for mobile devices, email and the Internet.

Consider getting insurance coverage. Check to make sure that liability for loss of employee or customer information is covered by your business liability insurance policy. To avoid paying high premiums for cyber liability insurance, make sure you have effective security practices in place (such as the ones mentioned in this post) prior to applying.

Use effective security protection solutions. Use commercial firewalls. They provide a more sophisticated and reliable anti-malware solution compared to the protection offered by regular anti-virus software and those based solely on firewalls. Make sure your security solution is kept up-to-date since new malware is created daily.

Photo Sources: Flickr

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