Sitting at your desk has never been riskier.
That’s because technology puts every business at risk for cyber-crime. Think it’s only an issue for huge corporations? Actually, small and mid-size businesses are a favorite target of criminals because these companies often lack sophisticated safeguards.
Of course, this is ample reason to consider purchasing a comprehensive cyber liability policy. Beyond that, there are also basic precautions every business (and every individual) should take to secure their internal information and customer records.
- Require basic security measures, including strong employee passwords and adherence to corporate internet guidelines. Microsoft recommends passwords:
– have eight or more characters
– include letters, punctuation, symbols and numbers
– utilize the entire keyboard, not just the more common characters
– change periodically
– vary by site (never use the same password for everything)
- Maintain the latest security software and firewall protection. Set antivirus software to scan after each update. Extend this protection to home computers if employees work remotely.
- Provide similar protection for mobile devices. Insist on password protection, encrypt data and install security apps to prevent criminals from retrieving information when phones are on public networks. Create procedures for reporting lost or stolen smartphones.
- Establish automatic backup of data and store in an offsite location or in the cloud.
- Control physical access to business computers, with particular attention to easily stolen laptops.
- Restrict administrative privileges to trusted IT staff or key employees. Limit employee access to data as appropriate.
- Secure, encrypt and hide your wi-fi network. If you want to offer wi-fi access to customers, create a separate network for their use.
- If you utilize online payment systems, follow best practices and validate use of anti-fraud programs by your bank or payment processor. Understand what obligations you have based on any signed agreements. Never use the same computer to process payments and surf the internet.
If you don’t have these basic protections in place, consider HP’s 2012 Cost of Cyber Crime Study, which revealed cyberattacks against U.S. organizations have more than doubled over a three-year period, while the financial impact has increased by nearly 40 percent. Now that’s some motivation for cyber security!