Tech & Tools

4 Ways to Increase Cybersecurity for Small Businesses

By Gina Hall

Thanks for clicking on this. You’ve just been cyber-hacked.

Not really. Sorry if your heart stopped there for a moment, but that’s how simple it is these days for even mildly sophisticated hackers to get inside your computer.

The bad news, I’m afraid, is that clever criminals will always be one step ahead of the law, which is reactive by nature. Security software is typically also reactive and can only prepare for the sorts of attacks that its programmers are aware of. The good news is that you can limit your risk and make your business a hard target for anyone who would seek to do it harm.

With that in mind, here are four things that you can do right now to prevent your business from being hacked.

1. Software Cybersecurity for Small Businesses

This is the obvious one. Invest in a good security program to protect your company from viruses, and subscribe to an identity protection program. Make sure you’re using the most up-to-date versions of software. Take particular precaution in updating your OS (operating system) and web browser as soon as the update is offered. These updates are generally free and take very little time to install.

It goes without saying, I hope, that you should change your password every so often—and that password should not be the word “password” or anything else so easily cracked. Keep your passwords strong and creative by using punctuation, numbers, and a mixture of upper and lowercase letters.

We also live in a world where employees take their work computers home with them. Make sure they understand that spam posts are ubiquitous anywhere that people exchange information in a forum setting, including seemingly benign sites as Facebook or Twitter.

2. Understand the Limits of Technology

The cloud is great, of course. So is Wi-Fi. Mobile devices are also awesome. But how safe is your business being in using these technologies?

Are you using the cloud to store mundane information as well as your most sensitive documents? Are those documents available to anyone with a password or do you have layers of accessibility? Guess which is probably safer.

When you or your employees log onto Wi-Fi, are you certain that it is secure? Are you opening your precious data banks on the free Wi-Fi at Starbucks? Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) or creating your own personal hotspot.

As for mobile devices, anytime you’re out in public, there is the possibility that someone is looking over your shoulder. It’s an archaic form of cyber hacking, but it’s both an oldie and a goodie. It’s easy to get complacent and lose sight of the fact that although we now exist in a digital domain, we still operate in an analog universe, as well. Don’t forget that screens are visible to more than just our eyes.

3. Sign Up for Real-time Alerts

Don’t wait to find out that you’ve been hacked—have an alarm system in place to let you know that something is wrong right now.

Have a warning system in place to alert you of suspicious transactions. Your business probably has a standard list of things that it purchases each month without much variance. If there is a seismic shift in your spending habits one month, you’ll want to be alerted immediately.

4. Track Transactions

Be on the lookout for multiple and suspicious orders from the same IP address. Also be on the lookout for anyone using multiple credit cards or phone numbers, especially if those numbers have no relation to the billing address on the cards. Always be suspicious if the cardholder’s name is different from the person you’re dealing with.

Remember, you’ll never be entirely safe, but you can never be safe enough.

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