Protecting your small business against cyber crime

With new technologies available designed to improve efficiency for companies of all kinds, such as cloud computing, many small businesses have been implementing them to get an edge. 

However, these companies are also taking on risk by using cloud computing, and other web-based technologies, as it leaves them susceptible to cyberattacks. To protect themselves from these risks, a number of businesses take certain common measures.

Thus, in addition to purchasing liability insurance to protect against lawsuits, small businesses should also be proactive and take these oft-used steps to prevent cybercrime. 

1. Use unique passwords and change them frequently – Oftentimes, programs and applications based in the cloud will require usernames and passwords. If that is the case, employees need to use unique passwords and ensure they change them frequently. Having a password that is basic, such as their name or birthday, could leave the company open to a cyberattack. Instead, letters, numbers and special characters should all be used to create a password that would be difficult to figure out by a hacker. 

2. Educate employees about potential risks – Small business owners need to be sure that employees are aware of practices that could increase the risk of cybercrime. For example, when logged onto company email, spam messages should be left alone. Any email that isn't recognizable should be trashed, as this could contain a link or download that could infect company servers. 

3. Install anti-malware and anti-virus software – There are many ways a cyber criminal can access a company's network, such as email and harmful websites. To help prevent these issues from happening, small business owners should consider installing anti-malware and anti-virus protection on all computers used for work purposes. Recently, many companies have enabled employees to use their own personal computers at work as part of the bring your own device trend, which could make it more difficult to prevent cyberattacks. However, employees should be encouraged to install this software on their own devices as well. 

4. Encrypt any company data – With data flowing through the cloud, it is put at risk of being compromised by hackers. To avoid a situation where sensitive information gets into the wrong hands, any data that is being transmitted over the Internet should be encrypted. Failing to encrypt data could allow a hacker to do so, which can lead to them holding a small businesses hostage virtually.