Internet security breaches are becoming more insidious and more powerful, as evidenced by the recent Heartbleed events. While we can hope that white hat computer security will eventually determine how to permanently thwart hackers, it’s not going to happen any time soon – which means it’s becoming more and more important for small businesses to ensure their systems are secure.
Makes sense, right? But how do you do that? As an entrepreneur working on your own or the owner of a small business with a few employees, your time is completely accounted for; there’s no time for a six-week immersive IT security course in your agenda!
Short of hiring an IT consultant or in-house tech support well-versed in Internet security, you can take one or more of these relatively simple actions to greatly improve the safety of your business’s data and files:
Create cyber security rules
If there are no procedures for handling and protecting sensitive data then it’s almost guaranteed something will go wrong. This is perhaps even truer if you have employees, without common guidelines everyone will handle it their own way. Make sure you have policies for managing personally identifiable information, financial details and other information you don’t want leaving the company. The policies clearly detail the penalties for not following cyber security policies. With employees planning summer vacations, it’s even more important to make sure you have a cyber security plan for your small business.
Protect your hardware
Not all cyber security threats aim to acquire data, some just want to mess up your hardware. With a solid security program installed on all of your small business’s Internet-enabled equipment you’ll be protected against viruses, spyware, malware and other malicious code. And be sure to download and install software updates as they become available, these often have built-in security features.
Keep physical access on lockdown
Not all cyber-security threats are virtual or behind-the-scenes. If your computers aren’t password-protected it’s possible someone could visit an unsafe site and pick up a virus or even intentionally infect the machine – and possibly your network. Laptops and tablets are portable and easy targets for theft, so make sure they’re secured when not in use.
Secure the Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi is ubiquitous, which makes it easy to get online – and easy to get into security trouble. Make sure the wireless network in your home and business are secured with complicated passwords. You can also “hide” your network by configuring your wireless access point or router to not broadcast the network name (Service Set Identifier or SSID). And be sure to change the administrative password that came pre-set on any of your wirelessly-enabled equipment.
Completing and staying on top of the steps above will go a long way toward improving your cyber-security. You can take it a step further with the FCC’s Small Biz Cyber Planner, which walks you through creating a cyber-security plan that’s configured for your business. Getting these suggestions done will take some effort, but the time they’ll save by heading off future IT security issues is definitely worth it. If you don’t think the cyber security of your small business is important, consider how a large company such as Target is still feeling the pain from their data breach from six-months ago.
Commit today to creating a cyber security plan for your small business.