Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses

The Internet is the great equalizer when it comes to running a business.  

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Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses

May 31, 2017

Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses

The Internet is the great equalizer when it comes to running a business. It has allowed even small operations to expand into new and larger markets that would have been unreachable in the past. But as businesses embrace new technology like cloud computing or establish e-commerce websites, they need to keep cybersecurity uppermost in their plans.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the theft of digital information has become the most commonly reported fraud, surpassing physical theft. This means that every business that uses the Internet is responsible for creating a culture of security that will enhance not only itself, but consumer confidence as well. Would you leave your brick-and-mortar store unlocked and vulnerable to a break in? Think of your online presence in the same way.

The FCC has provided ten key cybersecurity tips to protect your small business, summarized here:

  1. Train employees in security principles. Establish basic security practices and policies for them to follow, including strong passwords and appropriate Internet use guidelines, and detail penalties for violating company cybersecurity policies. Institute rules for handling and protecting customer information and other vital data.
  2. Protect information, computers, and networks from cyberattacks. Rely on the latest security software, web browser and operating system for the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Set antivirus software to run a scan after each update. Install other key software updates as soon as they are available.
  3. Provide firewall security for your Internet connection. A firewall is a set of related programs that prevent outsiders from accessing data on a private network. If employees work from home, ensure that their home system(s) are protected by a firewall.
  4. Create a mobile device action plan. Mobile devices can create significant security and management challenges, especially if they hold confidential information or can access the corporate network. Require users to password protect their devices, encrypt their data and install security apps to prevent criminals from stealing information while the device is on public networks. Be sure to set reporting procedures for lost or stolen equipment.
  5. Make copies of important business data and information, and back up the data on all computers on a regular basis either offsite or in the cloud. Critical data includes word processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, and accounts receivable/payable files.
  6. Control physical access to your computers. Administrative privileges should only be given to trusted IT staff and key personnel. Make sure a separate user account is created for each employee and require strong passwords. Prevent access or use of business computers by unauthorized individuals. Laptops, which are particularly easy targets for theft and can be easily lost, should be locked up when unattended.
  7. Secure your workplace Wi-Fi networks. They should be encrypted, and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, set up your wireless access point or router so it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID). Password protect access to the router.
  8. Employ best practices on payment cards. Work with your processor to ensure the most trusted and validated tools and anti-fraud services are being used. You may also have additional security obligations pursuant to agreements with your bank or processor. Isolate payment systems from other, less secure programs, and don’t use the same computer to process payments and surf the Internet.
  9. Limit employee access to data and information, and limit authority to install software. Do not provide any one employee with access to all data systems. Employees should only be given access to the specific data systems that they need for their jobs, and should not be able to install any software without permission.
  10. Require employees to use unique passwords and change passwords every three months. Consider implementing multifactor authentication that requires additional information beyond a password to gain entry. Check with your vendors that handle sensitive data, especially financial institutions, to see if they offer multifactor authentication for your account.

The FCC also offers tools to create a free customized Cyber Security Plan to help protect for your small business and your customers.

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