4 Tips to Help Your Small Business Prevent Cyber Crime

The need for more complex security practices and strategies is clearly needed for today’s business due to the growing adoption of cloud and utility computing services. There are often headlines about breaches of security among large businesses, yet there isn’t much heard about smaller ones. That doesn’t mean the threat for small businesses isn’t very real – phishing campaigns targeted small businesses 43 percent of the time in 2015, according to new data from Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report.

The problem is that small businesses often lack the necessary resources and security policies to defend against the cyber attacks. That makes small businesses an ideal target for hackers. Ideally you’ll work with an IT security expert to determine your needs.

Cyber crime
photo credit: http://enterprise.microsoft.com/en-us/industries/government/digital-policing-evolves-in-a-new-era-of-cyber-crime/

Remember that cyber criminals are effective at what they do and their techniques are constantly evolving, placing your business at a constant risk of an attack. Every entrepreneur wants to find the best methods to protect your business. With these threats being serious, your business should adopt and implement companywide policies to reduce your changes of cyber crime. Identify weaknesses and use these 4 tips to greatly reduce your likelihood from becoming a victim of cyber crime.

Enforce strict password policies

First, secure your valuable assets – your team. Train your employees on the importance of setting smarter passwords, a crucial part of upgrading your cyber security. While longer and more complex passwords are harder to remember and may feel like a hassle to your employees, you should still mandate them.

New, stronger password - not
photo credit: Corey Dahl / Flickr

Remember that passwords should never be duplicated across multiple platforms, and ideally changed every two months. Passwords should never be stored in the cloud or on a sheet of paper in the office.

Manage email security and validate any potential threats

Encrypt your company emails and communication to deter theft. This forces hackers to fight through an additional layer of protection – one that isn’t usually worth their effort when they can go elsewhere to steal information with less of a hassle. You’re never entirely secure, but this is one more step you can take to help protect your private information.

Train your employees on the warning signs

In order to achieve success, it’s essential to figure out ways to keep your best team together. You wouldn’t let someone drive your car without a license, right? So don’t let your employees have access to your business network before they take the wheel. Education and awareness across your staff will go a long way, so train your employees. Every employee should be trained on understanding the warning signs of a harmful email or scam. Email providers continually work to improve their detection procedures and aim to spot any threats before you receive them, but some scams still make their way into your inbox. Emails can be disguised, but tend to have a few giveaways that they aren’t legit.

Red flags include emails that ask for credit card or other personal information, request for immediate action about unusual situations, and any suspicious attachments. Show caution if you receive emails with multiple spelling mistakes or unfamiliar links. These links can prompt an unwanted download where malicious software can be installed.

If you feel that you received an email that isn’t right, ask a co-worker for an opinion. Never reply to or forward the email. Also inform your email service provider by reporting the email as spam.

Security software protection

Take advantage of spyware, malware, and firewall software programs

There are certain things you just cannot cut corners on – things that will save you a lot of cash in the long run when you consider the risks. It’s smart to mandate that all office workstations and services used for business have leading antivirus software to detect and eliminate threats before they become malware.

While it’s never possible to be completely secured, prevention will always be your best line of defense against cyber criminals. There are various ways small businesses can better protect themselves by testing their security systems, protecting their network, encrypting sensitive data and using a secure form of communication. Don’t ignore the severity of cyber crimes – protecting your business is worth the time, money and effort.

What steps have you taken to ensure the cyber security of your small business? Where do you see most small businesses struggle when it comes to managing online security?